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Coordinator Corner: Garrett, Graham and McGaughey discuss Sunday’s key game vs. Philly

The Giants’ three coordinators offer insights during weekly media sessions

New York Giants v Washington Football Team Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The New York Giants coordinators Jason Garrett (offense), Patrick Graham (defense) and Thomas McGaughey (special teams) addressed the media Thursday. Here are some of the key items and players they discussed:

Jason Garrett: Daniel Jones “growing and developing”

One of the most important stats in last week’s 23-20 win over the Washington Football Team was the lack of turnovers, particularly for Daniel Jones. For the first time this season, Jones did not turn the ball over once in the game. From Monday night to Sunday afternoon, Jones’ decision-making ability appeared to have made a significant improvement.

“The more you play, the more you’re in situations, the more you’re playing in a system, the more you see defenses, hopefully that decision-making process gets better and better and better,” Garrett said. “DJ’s done a lot of really good things for us over the course of the first half of the season. There’s no doubt he’s a young player who’s growing and developing every week.”

Garrett noted the importance between Jones playing aggressively on every snap while also responding accurately to the defense.

“There are situations where we have to run it and they’re playing run defense, and we have to run it anyway,” Garrett said. “There are situations where we have to pass it, they’re playing pass defense, and we have to pass it to have success anyway. I think DJ has done a good job of that, and that’s really the language we talk in. Aggressively take what they give you and keep trying to be efficient and move the ball down the field, and make a lot of little plays. Then when you get a chance to make a big play, go ahead and do that. We think the best quarterbacks do that.”

In addition to playing aggressive, Garrett has also been playing creative. He rolled out a number of trick plays over the last couple of weeks that are effective because they have both immediate and lingering effects.

“Sometimes you call that stuff and you don’t have success with it,” Garrett said. “We’ve run some arounds and reverses that haven’t been real good. But other times, they are good and you hope they’ll have a residual effect as well, that teams have to prepare for those kinds of plays. I just think that’s a part of playing offensive football, your deceptives, along with the base stuff that you run in your run and pass game each week.”

Just like Garrett switches up the play book each week to put his players in a position to make explosive plays, he also manages a group of rotating offensive linemen. Instead of fielding veteran guys at the same position week after week, Garrett juggles a young group of linemen, always making adjustments to cater to each player’s strengths.

“Offensive lines through the years, when they’ve been established, five guys are in there and that can be really good for your team,” Garrett said. “But when you’re trying to build a team and build a line, you have to give guys opportunities to do different things. One of the things we always emphasize with our offensive line is the ability to play different spots. If you’re a one-hole player on the offensive line, that’s not real good for you and that’s not real good for our team. You try to use that to your advantage, give guys opportunities, and if they do well, they earn more opportunities.”

Nick Gates is one of those players who has earned opportunities, playing center for the first time in his career.

“What was interesting about Nick was that there was a lot of enthusiasm about him as a player,” Garrett said. “The people who had been around him here in this organization felt like, hey, he could play one of five positions. He has a natural leadership quality about him. He’s kind of a guy who loves to play football, he has a contagious spirit about him. I think the guys have rallied around that. The more he’s played, the more command he’s had of that position. Making communication, making calls that are necessary, and then technically playing the game at a higher level week after week.”

Patrick Graham: Eagles’ weapons have his attention

After a disappointing loss to the Eagles earlier this season, Graham is prepared to ride the momentum from the team’s Week 9 win over Washington into Sunday’s important rematch at MetLife Stadium.

The Eagles, for their part, are a little healthier than they were the last time the Giants played them in Philadelphia. Graham recognizes the depth that the Eagles have developed in the face of injuries.

“These guys get hit with injuries and then whoever they put out there, they are pretty resilient,” Graham said. “When the guys come back, they have a high skill level. Obviously, some of your focus has to go to them. On top of that, you have the emergence of the receivers, the quarterback, who is dynamic. Now as a defensive coach, you’re looking at all those weapons and you have to take a little bit of attention there, a little bit of attention there. They’re happy they have all their guys back. They will be ready to go, so we have to figure out how to stop them.”

If the Giants can stop the Eagles often enough, the end result could be a victory.

“In terms of a validation point for the game, we need wins, that’s what we do this for,” Graham said. “If you’re hungry for something as a football player, as a competitor, as a coach, you’re hungry for wins. When I say hungry, I’m talking about a hunger. We’re going to do what we have to do today to win today. Hopefully, we keep stacking the days, if we come out and perform, we put ourselves in a position to possibly win.”

The combination of veteran Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers has helped the Giants gain momentum. The more the two play together, the more compatible they become - which gives Graham more options.

“In terms of being on the field, the more interchangeable they are, the more you can disguise it,” Graham said. “For me, as they’re growing with one another and understanding, okay, I can do your job, you can do my job. Now you start to play that game within the game, that’s always a good thing. I like the fact that they will work with one another and be as interchangeable as possible as we keep growing this thing as we work through the season.”

Thomas McGaughey: A personal story

Before launching into his game plan for the Eagles this week, McGaughey took a step back and reflected on the unique challenges that he and the rest of the staff have faced this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. McGaughey’s family is in Houston and he has not been able to see them often.

McGaughey shared one story from a time he was able to go home earlier this season.

“The one time I was able to go home, see my son, see him play,” McGaughey said. “As soon as I landed, I get to the stadium, I walk up. I get a text when I drive into the parking lot, Trent’s hurt. I walk up to the stadium, I’m coming into the stadium up to the bleachers and I see him with this big wrap on his hand. As soon as he looked at me, I looked at him and he broke out crying.

“To make a long story short, he dislocated a bone in his hand. He had to have surgery the next morning. I was literally there for 24 hours. By the time I got to the stadium we went straight to the emergency room. Picked him up, took him to the emergency room and he was in the hospital all night. I actually left the hospital at 4:30 in the morning to go home, get an hour of sleep, then hopped on a 9:00, 8:30 flight, whatever it was, to get back here so I could COVID test. That’s kind of been our situation as a family. Just to give you a little insight, it’s never easy as coach when you’re away from your family and trying to do what’s best for your family.”

McGaughey said that it helps to be surrounded by a coaching staff that treats each other like family.

“We spend, to be honest with you, during the season, we spend more time around the players and other coaches than we do our own families,” McGaughey said “You have to enjoy the guys that you’re working with. Obviously, we’d like to spend time with our families, but obviously we have to pay the bills and we have to do the things we have to do to get things done.”

McGaughey anticipates that former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis will also prove to be helpful to the special teams unit once he gets adjusted.

“Dante was one of the best returners, one of the most prolific returners in the history of college football,” McGaughey said. “When he came out, I liked him as a returner. If you go back and look at the guys that were on that football team. I watched them closely because we had to evaluate all of them coming out. Dante is working and we’ll see where he is toward the back end of the week.”