The New York Giants' quest to become an annual playoff contender since winning its last Super Bowl has been far from smooth and has been characterized in part by an unusually high coaching turnover, especially in the last five years.
Though the players are expected to perform and execute on the field no matter the circumstances, the constant change in coaching philosophy can make for some challenging times.
“It definitely isn’t the greatest when you have a rotating line of coaches for a position group,” said center Nick Gates, who went through four primary offensive line coaches since signing with the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska in 2018.
Gates, coached by Hal Hunter in 2018-2019, Marc Colombo and Dave DeGuglielmo in 2020, and Rob Sale in 2021, will be working with his fifth offensive line coach when he returns in 2022.
“It’s part of the business," Gates said. "It’s the NFL. It doesn’t matter who’s there. We got to take accountability and be able to take what the coaches teach us and put it on the field and bring our good product out to the field that the fans can be proud of.”
Besides position coach changes, former head coach Joe Judge made a mid-year change at offensive coordinator, releasing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and turning to senior offensive assistant coach Freddie Kitchens for the play-caller role.
Despite starting his new position with a 13-7 win against the Eagles in Week 12, Kitchens’ term as the play-caller deteriorated by the week, faring much worse than Garrett’s tenure this season.
Under Kitchens’ seven-game stretch, the Giants' offense averaged just 236.6 total yards and 9.9 points per game. In the ten games Garrett was the offensive coordinator, the Giants averaged 322.8 total yards and 18.9 points per game.
Even with such a significant change, quarterback Daniel Jones, who will now be looking at his fourth offensive play-caller and his third position coach as he heads into Year 4 of his career, understands the adjustments that come with this profession.
NFL.com Names This Player As Most Underappreciated New York Giant
Based on a formula, third-year safety Xavier McKinney was named the Giants' most underappreciated player. Read how McKinney is looking to change that narrative.
New York Giants Defense's Mantra: No More Mr. Nice Guy
The Giants defense is tired of being pushed around, and under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, they're looking to go from being bullied to being the bully.
“Every year is different,” Jones said. “I think the offense is going to look different this year than the year before, and since Jason (Garret) left, it looked different too. So you know you’re always learning and adapting, and that’s part of the game. But we’re certainly going to attack that process.”
Like his quarterback, tight end Evan Engram has also experienced his fair share of different coaches, including the offensive play-caller and his position coach.
Following Kevin Gilbride Jr’s exit as tight ends coach after the 2017 season, Engram played under Lunda Wells in 2018 and 2019, Freddie Kitchens in 2020, and Derek Dooley in 2021. Regardless of whether Engram, an unrestricted free agent, returns next season, he will have to acclimate himself once again with a new tight ends coach.
“It was just adjustments for me,” said Engram when asked about having to work with so many different coaches.
“It would be nice to stay in one offense and not have to go through that. That makes things difficult, having four play callers and things like that. But it was just an adjustment for me, something that I took head-on.”
More from Giants Country
Engram, who has likely played in his final game as a Giant (262 receptions for 2,828 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in 65 games played), said that there are no excuses for his production (or lack thereof).
“I would never blame anything on that (the different coaching),” he said. “We’re still on the field, plays are called, and that ball was still in the air, that ball was still on the ground. So we still had to go out there and execute no matter what. But it was just more of an adjustment, and I wouldn’t say it was difficult.”
Given all the coaching changes the Giants have had of late, the players have yet another hefty adjustment to deal with following the team’s dismissal of Judge, but hopefully one that will yield better offensive production.
“It was a little frustrating, but we got next year, and we have the whole offseason to work," Gates said of the future. "Hopefully we all get in here together and start working and planning for next year."