New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has always been simultaneously a familiar and unknown face amongst New York Giants fans. Having spent 13 years total with the Dallas Cowboys, his face is easily recognizable from the sidelines.
But just as Giants fans are discovering new sides of Garrett, he is remembering different versions of himself in his new role as the team’s offensive coordinator. Most notably, he is back to play calling - something he has not done in years. For Garrett though, the fundamentals that make him the coach he is have not changed with time.
“Yeah, I think the DNA that I have as a person and as a coach, I don’t know if that’s changed,” Garrett said. “But certainly, you want to evolve and grow in every aspect of your life and certainly as a coach. Hopefully I’ve done that with the different experiences I’ve had. Hopefully I’ve learned from them. You try to build on the good ones and learn from the ones that aren’t quite as good. I think that applies to all aspects of coaching, and certainly to calling plays.”
Garrett explained that the offense during his time with the Cowboys was built around the players and it therefore changed from season to season based on different strengths and weaknesses. Garrett’s experience developing and molding offense’s has therefore prepared him for his time with the Giants.
“There were some years that we really emphasized the running game and we had success with that,” Garrett explained. “Other years, we had a different personnel makeup and we threw the ball a little bit more. That’s a big part of this when you’re putting the offense together, to have a system that’s flexible enough that you can use the personnel the way you want to and evolve from year to year. That’s the process that we’re going through right now. Learning our team to get this offense to play as well as it can play.
Here are some other takeaways from Garrett’s media availability.
Never use the word ‘tolerate’
Like all offensive coordinators around the NFL this season, Garrett is tasked with assembling and installing his offense with less practice time and no preseason games. During this evaluating process, mistakes will inevitably happen. But Garrett stresses that mistakes on the field are not to be tolerated, but learned from.
“You don’t really tolerate anything,” Garrett said. “We coach everything every single day with every player we have. That’s really what our job is. That’s not to say mistakes aren’t going to happen. They are going to happen. But you never use the word ‘tolerate’. You’re always trying to learn and grow from the different experiences that we have.”
That mindset applies specifically to Daniel Jones, who has shown signs of improvement while also making mistakes along the way in preparation for his sophomore campaign.
“Daniel’s done an excellent job,” Garrett said. “He comes in here and, again, he’s so prepared, he’s so into it, he wants to know every detail ... I’ve never been around a player who played a perfect game. I’ve never been around a player who had a perfect practice. We’re always striving for that. We’re striving for excellence in everything we do, and that’s really what our objective is. We try to set high standards for our players. We try to instill belief in them, and we hold those to them each and every day. Daniel is one of those guys who’s really embraced that.”
Jones’ chase for perfection was evident in the team’s recent scrimmage in which the young QB showed flashes of promise and also areas for improvement.
“Some parts of it were better than other parts, for him and for our offense,” Garrett said.
“Again, those are great learning experiences for us. Keep going about it the right way, work hard, prepare, and get ready to go. When it’s time to go play, go play. Then you come back and clean it up as you go, and hopefully you get better day after day.
No longer observing from afar
Because Garrett is so familiar with the Giants, his greatest challenges from coaching against New York have now become his biggest strengths. Tight end Evan Engram is one of the players Garrett says he has always had a tremendous amount of respect for from afar.
“Talk about a guy who loves football, wants to work at it and wants to refine his craft and everything he does. He’s done an outstanding job from minute one with us. He loves it. You can see it every day. He’s engaged in meetings, he works hard at practice.”
Garrett explained that though Engram has been seen as play-making tight end throughout his career, he has the potential to be a more complete player at his position.
“He has a great thirst for knowledge, a great thirst for trying to understand what we’re asking him to do and it shows up in his work every day,” Garrett said.
Two-year tight end Garrett Dickerson is another player who Garrett feels can bring increased versatility to the tight end position.
“He can be an on the line tight end, but he also can open up a little bit,” Garrett said. “He also can come back in the backfield. I think he’s shown that versatility. You said it, he’s made some plays. It looks like he’s comfortable out there. He’s done a lot of positive things, both in the run game and in the pass game, the past few days.”
A successful screen game?
Giants fans have been trained over the time to dread the screen call because it rarely seems to work out. The Cowboys however, have long had a successful screen game so maybe luck is about to change for the Giants.
“Offensive football, you want to attack defenses different ways,” Garrett explained. “It starts with run and pass and then the variety of runs you have and the variety you have in the passing game, whether that’s run action passes or play action passes or movement passes or the quick game or the drop back game or screens. That has to be a part of it. We feel like we’re capable of doing it.”
Garrett said that he believes Saquon Barkley in particular can play an impactful role on improving the team’s screen game overall.
“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,” Garrett said. “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 a defense different ways.”
The addition of running back Dion Lewis should only complement Barkley’s strengths. After spending two seasons with the Tennessee Titans and now entering his eighth year in the league, Lewis has developed himself as an experienced pass protector.
“He respects the details of the game and what he needs to do to be a complete back,” Garrett said. “Don’t have this impression that this guy is a receiving back. He’s willing to block, demonstrates an ability to run inside and outside in this league for a long, long time...You get him in some of those two-minute situations, he’s a very clean protector, he understands who he needs to block when he’s asked to do that. But he’s also a very good route runner who can beat you when he gets out in space.”