With Jason Garrett having been named offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, I asked Big Blue View contributors to weight in on the topic. Here is the exact question:
What are your thoughts on the Giants’ hiring of Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator?
In case you missed them, my thoughts were expressed in a post on Sunday.
I think this works on two different levels.
First is what this hiring means for Joe Judge. As a first-time head coach Judge now has someone in Garrett who he can lean on, and someone who has been in this role before. As prepared as Judge might be for this moment, given the mentorship provided to him by Bill Belichick, truly nothing prepares you for being a head coach in the NFL. Having Garrett as a right-hand will provide a sounding board for Judge, an extra mind and set of eyes, and will allow Judge to develop himself as a coach.
And speaking of development, obviously a critical component to this hire is the development of Daniel Jones. Looking to last season, the rookie’s prowess in the vertical passing game was one of many bright spots the young quarterback provided a year ago. Building an offense around him rooted in downfield, Air Coryell concepts makes a great deal of sense. While it is true that no offense is truly a pure West Coast or Air Coryell offense anymore, as every playbook steals elements from the various offensive philosophies, building a vertical passing game around Jones plays to his skillset as a quarterback. After all, that is what we are seeing more and more teams do now: Play to the strengths of their players.
Think about what Judge said during his opening press conference. Not that “winning the press conference” is really a thing, but during his remarks he emphasized the notion of “tell me what he can do.” If you want Judge to bring one lesson from New England to the Giants, it is that core of the Patriots’ philosophy: Tell me what he can do. The ability of Belichick to acquire players like John Simon and Kyle Van Noy and James Develin and find ways to make them truly productive players is the result of that philosophy. While other organizations focus on what potential draft picks and free agents can’t do, New England focuses on what they can do, and how that can help the Patriots win games.
We learned last year that Jones can operate in a vertical passing game. In that kind of offense, the Giants can win games.
I am of ... Four minds about the hiring of Jason Garrett.
My initial reaction is the same as when the Giants and Garrett were first linked back in November: “This is one of the most ‘Giants’ moves possible.”. Dave Gettleman was the Giants’ Director of Pro Personnel almost 20 years ago when Garrett was signed as the team’s backup quarterback and the Giants have been playing against Garrett’s offense since 2007. They are intimately aware of what Garrett likes and wants from an offense, and what his tendencies are. Other than keeping Pat Shurmur on as offensive coordinator or bringing back Kevin Gilbride, it’s hard to find anyone with whom the Giants are more familiar.
My second thought was “Of course the Giants move to an offensive coordinator who calls a vertical offense that isn’t based on option routes AFTER Eli leaves.” Vertical passing was always one of Eli’s strongest suits and I (as well as our prodigal writer InvictusXI) have wanted to see Eli in an Air Coryell (or similar) offense since before Kevin Gilbride was “retired.”
Moving on to the present and future of the Giants, I will be very interested to see how Garrett adapts to the Giants personnel. His offense always had the potential to be potent, but it was also a glass cannon. As with all Air Coryell offenses, Dallas’ was prone to sputtering when there were injuries along the offensive line or when the team was without a stud “number one” receiver (Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant, or Amari Cooper). The Giants’ offensive line needs upgrades at multiple spots and was struggling to hold up in a quick-strike passing game. Likewise, the Giants lack a true number one receiver and could be forced to invest heavily to get one — and drafting Jerry Jeudy or spending 90 or $100 million on Amari Cooper would certainly irk Giants’ fans. But perhaps Garrett will adjust and build an offense around the pieces the Giants already have. At least then the rest of the NFC East wouldn’t know what to expect from him.
Finally, my fourth thought is that this hiring was really done for Joe Judge. There were other candidates who could be better fits to work with what the Giants have on offense. And there were also coaches with whom Judge has worked before and might already have a rapport. But I do think Garrett was the preferred option to give Judge an experienced former head coach on whom he can lean and use as a sounding board. After all, while Dallas’ teams were consistently inconsistent, Garrett has spent a decade as a head coach in one of the highest-profile jobs in sports. In becoming the Giants’ head coach, Judge is in a similar pressure cooker and having an experienced voice behind the scenes could be big for him. That, I think is where we’ll find Garrett’s true value for the Giants.
When Garrett’s name surfaced for the Giants’ offensive coordinator job, I was not perturbed by the notion. Garrett was a hot name at offensive coordinator 10 plus years ago, but can it work in today's NFL? The system he runs is mostly an iteration of the Air Coryell system, which is different than Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur’s West Coast based system. While watching some of Garrett’s earlier OC film from the 2000s, I saw pre-snap movement to create mismatches and find advantageous holes in the defense, along with a power running game, which I feel like Saquon Barkley can thrive within. The usage of Evan Engram is the thing that most intrigues me about the offense because we’ve seen Garrett line up his tight ends in very unique ways - split out - inline - in the backfield, and a young Jason Witten is a much different athletic build than the current Evan Engram. The usage of these types of offensive weapons was a criticism of Shurmur, so I hope that Garrett can maximize their effect and flip that script.
While I hope the offense has grown and Garrett can get back to play-calling without a hitch, I would be remiss to not mention that there’s much more to coaching than calling plays. Head coach Joe Judge spoke about bringing in coaches that were teachers and not presenters. I feel Garrett is just that - a student of the game; someone who can inculcate the nuances of football into his players and not just recite and expect execution of assignments. This is very important to what Judge is trying to build and Garrett fits that mold. Jason Garrett was around in the earlier-mid stages of Tony Romo’s career in Dallas and he helped develop a young Dak Prescott. The development of Daniel Jones is the most imperative thing for this franchise at the moment. Ensuring that his offensive coordinator can teach and see eye to eye with him is paramount. One issue, which would be a catch-22, is the fact that Garrett will likely leave for a head coaching position if it arises, because he is a name that will generate buzz. That will only happen, though, if the Giants offense is successful. The negative part being Garrett leaves and Jones has his third offense to learn in as many years.