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Giants Hope Collaborative Approach Gets Offense Back on Track

While not much is expected to change for the Giants offense on a macro level following the dismissal of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the team hopes the little things yield big results.

If someone had predicted at the start of the 2021 season, Eagles cornerback Darius Slay would have more touchdowns than former Detroit Lions teammate Kenny Golladay, the Giants' No. 1 receiver, that person probably would have been laughed at.

Yet here we are in Week 12 of the NFL season, and sure enough, that's where things currently stand. Golladay has yet to score a touchdown while Slay has one to his name, that scored last week on a 51-yard interception return in their win over the New Orleans Saints.

"Yeah, that's messed up, ain't it?" Golladay said of Slay having a touchdown while he doesn't.

So is he frustrated?

“I’m gonna keep that to myself,” he said.

No one would blame Golladay if he's frustrated, as his inaugural season with the New York Giants has been a disappointment so far.

A sprained knee cost him three games between Weeks 6 through 8. Before his Week 5 injury, Golladay was targeted 30 times, catching 17 passes for 282 yards.

Since returning from his injury, Golladay has been something of an afterthought in the offense. He's been targeted just five times, catching three passes for 40 yards, and has said he hopes for more opportunities to contribute.

The Giants would love nothing better, as they are looking for more production out of Golladay and the offense as a whole. While the problems on offense extend beyond one factor, they did relieve offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of his duties earlier this week.

"Honestly, it sucked, because you develop a relationship with Coach Garrett and the offensive coordinator. Aside from football, he’s a good dude," said running back Saquon Barkley, who is averaging 36.6 rushing yards per game in five games played.

"I learned a lot from him with football, without football, just the way he carries himself, his mannerisms. There’s a lot that I’m going to take from him, so when you see anybody let go, it always sucks. But that’s kind of just the part of the nature, the part of the business."

While head coach Joe Judge has yet to identify who will be calling plays--it's widely assumed that senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens will get the role since he filled in for Garrett last year when he tested positive for COVID-19--whoever Judge does have in mind will be tasked with trying to jump-start an offense that averages 322.8 yards per game (23rd) and 5.25 yards per play (24th).

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The problem is the Giants are not in a position to overhaul the offense entirely at this point--certainly not coming off a short week that included the Thanksgiving holiday.

"I mean, when you’re in Week 12 or Week 13 in the NFL, there isn’t really much more you can have," Barkley said. "Obviously, you could have new wrinkles here and there, but you’re not really going to have much, the terminology is not going to change. I think (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge came and said collectively as a group they’re going to come and make decisions and put together a game plan."

Judge, who typically doesn't officially address the media on Thursday, the day set aside for the three coordinators to speak, stepped in to represent the offense and said there is only so much that will be changed given the circumstances.

"If you add something new, you might put on a new term here or there, but that’s nothing different. You do that every week for an offense. You put a new play in, maybe a code word, something like that," he said.

Golladay was a bit more direct.

"I feel like we’re going to still run the stuff that we know and do well. At this point, I think it’s just about getting the right guys in the right spot," he said.

To accomplish that, the Giants coaching staff has solicited more feedback from the players on the types of plays they like to run and are considering how to incorporate those plays into the game plan.

"Yeah, they kind of tell us as we’re going through the week we’ve got to start figuring out and knowing what we like too, because we’re going to be the ones on the field," said Barkley, who, like Golladay, has had to deal with an injury that's slowed him down.

"We’re going to be the ones running the plays. If you’ve got your five top runs, come let me know your five top runs. Like these five plays that you know and you believe that are going to work, let me know the play that you believe is going to work. Just be open, be honest, the plays that we like, the plays that we don’t like. We’re the ones that have got to be out there running the plays and make the plays happen."

Barkley said it's on the players to execute, regardless of who is calling plays.

"You can say what you want about coaches, but at the end of the day, as players we’ve got to take some responsibility about it too and go out there and make plays."

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