New York Giants Notebook | Takeaways From Assistant Coaches' Media Sessions

With three games left in the season, the New York Giants assistant coaches spent Tuesday updating the media on a variety of topics, most of which were centered around where certain players are at this point in the season.
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The Giants assistant coaches took to Zoom Tuesday to a host of questions o different topics. Among the more pressing ones included the play of quarterback Daniel Jones, the progress of safety Xavier McKinney, and the offensive line's alarming struggles.

Let's run down a few of the notable highlights from the various media sessions.

Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens

Freddie Kitchens will take the sideline opposite his former team on Sunday night. Kitchens led the Browns as head coach last year but was fired following a disappointing 6-10 campaign.

The Browns have since orchestrated an impressive turnaround in Kitchens' absence, with new head coach Kevin Stefanski leading Cleveland to a 9-4 record and the team's first playoff berth since 2002.

Kitchens claims to be happy for his former team and the success they've found, specifically for the organization's fans, but he will still be hoping they don't have much to celebrate by the end of Sunday night.

"I couldn't be happier for the fans of Cleveland," Kitchens said. "They've waited a long time to have something like that, to go to the games and cheer for."

Kitchens has the most inside knowledge of much of the Browns' roster of any of the Giants coaches and could prove to be a valuable resource in scouting the opponent this week.

Still, this year's Browns team is not the same as last year's, and Kitchens knows there are plenty of differences to consider when preparing for Sunday, even with his knowledge of the team.

"There are no two teams that are ever the same, we say that every year," Kitchens said. "This team is playing very well, they're very talented, they've always been very talented. They're well-coached, they're playing hard, they're doing everything that's necessary to have a successful season and that's what they've been doing."

Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski

Jerry Schuplinski has worked with a hobbled Daniel Jones over the last two weeks after Jones suffered a hamstring injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12.

Jones returned to the field last Sunday against the Cardinals after missing Week 13's game against Seattle, but the results were less-than-stellar, as Jones completed just 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards and fumbled three times (one lost).

Perhaps the most noticeable and glaring development of all was that Jones, who in each of his 25 games prior showed some sort of mobility, had his feet stuck in cement due to the limitations placed on him by the hamstring strain.

Schuplinski doesn't know how much longer the hamstring will be a factor for Jones--no one does--but there's no question that the injury has forced the Giants to adapt on offense accordingly when Jones is in there.

"One of his best assets is his ability to run and scramble and make some plays with his feet so he certainly had to adapt that. We kind of made a point of emphasis on when that's not available we also have to be smart with not forcing some throws in there because we get frustrated when we can't just take off and run for some things," Schuplinski said.

Jones was also sacked six times by the Cardinals, who finished with eight sacks on the day, the last two coming against Colt McCoy. Most of those sacks resulted from the leaky pass protection by the offensive line, but Jones' physical limitations certainly didn't help things.

"I hope it gets better," Schuplinski said of Jones's hamstring. "We'll kind of see how this week of practice goes with him starting [Wednesday] and how he feels and how that goes but hopefully it gets better every week."

Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo

Dave DeGuglielmo is heading into just his fourth game since taking over as offensive line coach, and the returns, so far, have been a mixed bag.

After noticeable progress in Weeks 12-13, the unit took a massive step back last Sunday in what was arguably its worst performance of the year.

In addition to giving up eight sacks, the offensive line failed to create consistent rushing lanes as the Giants only managed to run for 78 yards as a team.

The Cardinals defense flustered the passing game through a series of T&E stunts, which DeGuglielmo claims the Giants struggled to pick up even before he arrived. Adjusting to handling those stunts is one of the biggest challenges he faces in these final three games and is one he's determined to help the linemen solve.

"It is the most difficult stunt that a team can run against you pass protection wise," DeGuglielmo said. "When they do it on both sides, it's even worse, and these guys went with a lot of double tight ends.

"We did handle it better against Cincinnati, but it's been an issue throughout the season and it's something we'll continue to work on and get better at. We need to get better at it, we need to straighten it out. It's not that we can't get it right it's that we didn't get it right."

Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson

Rookie defensive back Xavier McKinney, the Giants' second-round pick out of Alabama this year, came into training camp as one of the roster's most exciting players. A foot injury in camp forced McKinney to miss the first three months of the season, but he's since returned and done what he can to make an impact in the final stretch of the season.

McKinney got his first significant NFL workload against the Cardinals, filling in at slot cornerback in place of fellow rookie Darnay Holmes who was out with a neck injury.

While playing in the slot is not McKinney's natural position, his versatility and ability to adapt to different roles was one of his best assets as a prospect and helped the Giants' defense in a significant way on Sunday.

Defensive backs Jerome Henderson worked to cross-train McKinney and the rest of the defensive backs during training camp and is pleased with what he's seen out of the second-round pick so far. Henderson believes that McKinney will have a lot of momentum to carry into next season.

"You see why we drafted him where we did. You saw his athleticism, and you saw his willingness to get to the ball," Henderson said. "It was his first time out playing that many snaps, and he'll continue to get better from here.

"From watching his tape in college he was versatile and played different spots in that Alabama defense and we like that about him," Henderson added. "You can see him as a deep safety, you can see him as a box safety, you can see him going in the slot some and playing and he was pretty proficient everywhere he played."