Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has mostly been vanilla when answering questions regarding his plans for the Giants offense this season.
But in two media sessions so far with reporters, Garrett has dropped the tiniest of hints regarding some of the plays and concepts in the team’s playbook that are coming to a football field near you this fall.
The first is a potential increase in screen passes. The Giants haven’t had a good screen game in years, partially due to not having a running back who’s shifty enough to squeeze through the tiniest of creases and partly due to the plodding offensive linemen they’ve had on the field.
The Giants addressed the latter issue this off-season, adding more athletic offensive linemen who thus far have shown themselves able to stay on their feet and get to the second level a lot quicker than the previous groups have demonstrated.
“One of the things that we believe very strongly in is offensive linemen have to do a lot of different things,” Garrett said back on August 11.
“We felt like they had the skill set necessary to do what we’re asking them to do. Our linemen have to be athletic. They need to be able to run block on the second level. They need to be able to pass protect against the rushers in this league.”
The Giants have running back Saquon Barkley, a player capable of executing screens due to his change of direction skill, his vision, and his ability to squeeze through narrow creases before a defender has a chance at recovering.
The revamped offensive line and Barkley give Garrett reason to be optimistic that when it comes to the screen game this year, the Giants should find more success.
“We feel like we're capable of doing it,” Garrett said Tuesday. “I know Saquon Barkley has been a real threat throughout his career up to this point on screens, and certainly has been against the teams that I've been around. So, you know, we believe we can be a good screen team, but again, that's just part of the entire offensive package you're trying to put together to attack and defense different ways.”
The screen figures to be just one part of what Garrett plans to run for the Giants in his first season as offensive coordinator. Some other staples of a Garrett offensive system from past years include RPOs that can potentially take advantage of a quarterback’s mobility and more vertical route concepts from the Air Coryell system.
One player who could be a big part of those vertical routes for the Giants is tight end Evan Engram, the Giants No. 1 tight end who some consider a big receiver in a tight end’s body.
“There’s this idea that, ‘Hey, this is a receiving tight end, this is a play-making tight end.’ I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Garrett said. “But he’s also someone who’s willing to be a complete tight end and block, block in line and do the things he needs to do to be an every-down player for us.”
Engram and Barkley are just two of the players who figure to play critical roles in Garrett's offense this fall. Already he and head coach Joe Judge have said that the offense won’t be centered around a specific player every week, but rather, they will look to feature whoever it is they feel provides the best matchups against opponents every week.
“You want to attack defense different ways. It starts with run and pass, and then the variety of runs that you have, and then the variety you have in the passing game,” Garrett said. “Whether that's run action passes or play action passes or movement passes, or the quick game or the drop back game or screen, that has to be a part of it.”