New York Giants coordinators Jason Garrett (offense) and Patrick Graham (defense) spoke to reporters on Thursday. Here are a few of the key items and players they addressed heading into the team’s Week 1 matchup.
For new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the unpredictable circumstances around joining a new team amidst the coronavirus pandemic has pushed him to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And that is what he wants for his players, too: embrace the discomfort.
Garrett has not called plays since 2012 but his experiences as both a player and coach have prepared him to face new challenges. As the offensive coordinator, he is in a unique position that allows him to approach the game at both a macro and micro level.
“There really has never been any role that I’ve had that I haven’t really tried to embrace and try to grow and develop in,” Garrett said. “Obviously, a lot of responsibility, big picture responsibility, on the offensive side of the ball. But also some hands-on coaching opportunities...My experiences have been dive in and embrace what your role is and do it to the best of your ability.”
Garrett said that he is excited about the weapons that make up the offense as a whole - all of whom he says have embraced the new scheme.
“It’s a mix and a blend of some guys who have some experience and then we have some young guys,” Garrett said. “The common theme is that everyone is new together. It’s a new system, but guys have worked hard to learn it, to understand it, understand the x’s and o’s but beyond that, the nuances. Really, the way you grow as a player, as a unit and as a team is just having experience together.”
Of course, Monday night’s game against the Steelers will be Garrett’s first but it will also give fans their first impression of Joe Judge. Despite him being a new head coach, Garrett said that he has no advice for the ultra-prepared, detail-minded Judge.
“He’s done a great job outlining that for all of us and getting everybody on the same page,” Garrett said. “Alignment within an organization is critical. Everybody on the same page from ownership all the way through the organization, personnel people, coaching staff, players, staff people, getting everybody on the same page. That’s such a big piece in having success. I’ve learned a lot from Joe about that.”
Speaking of Judge, Patrick Graham has the added benefit of being familiar with the head coach because they both spent time together in New England. For this reason, Graham is not surprised by Judge’s focus and work ethic.
“I used to sit in meetings at times and be amazed,” Graham said. “Special teams coordinators have a short period of time and they have to get a lot of info in and just amazed at how quickly and how effectively he could get the information to the guys.”
Like Garrett, Graham spoke about the importance of enacting Judge’s overall plan.
“I know this, he’s the head coach of the New York Giants,” Graham said. “He laid out the vision pretty clear and now we’re trying to work to make the vision come to fruition for him. His input on the defense, I can’t speak for offense or special teams, is priceless.”
The Giants may have to rotate cornerbacks opposite James bradberry. Graham emphasized the strength of the competition at that position, specifically noting Corey Ballentine and newcomer Issac Yiadom. When matching up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Graham stressed the need for numerous defensive backs on the field.
“Corey has been here every day working hard,” Graham said. “Showing physicality in the run game, showing the ability to play press coverage or play off coverage in the passing game. I really like where he’s gone as a young player, he’s really growing knowing he spent a lot of time in the slot last year.
“For [Isaac], the thing that stands out about him, he’s long, he’s physical, he can run,” Graham said.
Steelers’ number one wide receiver Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster changes how Graham’s approaches Monday’s game plan. Graham said that the versatility of his players means that a number of guys could step up to cover Smith-Schuster
“We’ve been lucky to have all the guys on the roster from Darnay to JB (James Bradberry) to Ike that’s new, Corey, all the guys here, they are selfless guys,” Graham said. I can’t speak for them but whatever we think is best for the team, I think they are willing to do that.”
Graham is also preparing his team to face Ben Roethlisberger, who is coming off a year in which he did not see a lot of playing time and he underwent a major surgery. Graham said that regardless of the season he had last year, Roethlisberger is a veteran QB who will bring many challenges to the Giants defense.
“I know this, he is one of the best to ever do it,” Graham said. “He can throw the ball anywhere, he’s tough. That’s the thing that stands out. He is one of the toughest players to ever play in this league. For a young team that we have, we try to explain to them, listen, no play is over.”