Why did the New York Giants’ offense finish 31st in a 32-team league? Has Daniel Jones improved and how bright is the quarterback’s future? Is Jason Garrett the right offensive coordinator? What do the Giants need to do to improve on offense in 2021?
These are just some of the many questions swirling around the 2021 Giants as we begin to settle into the long and unpredictable offseason. I don’t know anyone better qualified to discuss topics like these than Big Blue View quarterback analyst Mark Schofield and Test Football Academy/Manning Passing Academy quarterback trainer Tony Racioppi.
Schofield and Racioppi joined the Wednesday edition of the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about the offense. Here is the full show, which is well worth your time:
If you’re not into podcasts, or just don’t have the 49:27 it would take to listen from beginning to end, never fear. Below, a summary of many of the main points addressed by Schofield and Racioppi.
On Daniel Jones’ progress
Schofield (see how things magically work together sometimes?) broke down earlier in the week areas where Jones improved in Year 2. If you haven’t read that yet, why not? You really should, it’s typical, smart, informative work from Schofield.
Here is what Schofield said on the podcast about that topic”
“I kept telling people you want him to be a better quarterback at the end of the year than he was at the start of the year. What that means isn’t going to easily be reflected in numbers, but you want to see him be more decisive, you want to see him more confident, you want to see him get through reads quicker, you want to see looks that have confused him in the past not confuse him in the future,” Schofield said.
I think for the most part he got there … I think that there was improvement in some areas.”
Was it enough progress to go forward with Jones, Schofield asked rhetorically?
“I think so,” was his conclusion.
Racioppi, who we first came in contact with a few seasons ago through his work with Davis Webb, agreed that Jones has gotten better at the art of quarterbacking.
“What young quarterbacks usually do is two things. They just stare at one in their progression, right? They’re going to throw it to that guy no matter what, they just hope he gets open. Or, two, you just pick a guy. It’s not a part of the progression, you just hope that guy gets open. I think he got in trouble with that a lot as a rookie and at times early in the season,” Racioppi said.
“Sometimes early in the season you saw his eyes — they were not in the right spots … as the season went on I saw him manipulating coverage, I saw him getting through things.”
The Josh Allen model
The Buffalo Bills took Allen, known as an outstanding athlete with a rocket arm who was a lot like the 100-MPH baseball pitcher who had no clue where the ball was going when he released it, with the seventh pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
For two seasons, Allen was plagued with inaccuracy. His 52.8 and 58.8 percent completion rates in his first two seasons are simply unacceptable for modern NFL starting quarterbacks. In his third season, Allen completed 69.2 percent of his passes and is in the MVP conversation as the Bills won the AFC East and are now continuing in the AFC playoffs.
Jones has been more accurate than Year 1 and Year 2 Allen. The Giants, though, would love to come out of Year 3 with a playoff quarterback who is getting MVP buzz. Can Jones, the sixth pick in the 2019 Draft, get there?
Racioppi, through his work with the Manning Passing Academy, has seen both Allen and Jones up close.
“Josh is the most talented kid I’ve seen in person in 10 years of coaching quarterbacks. When I saw him at the Manning camp for four days I was just in awe of how big and how strong his arm was. He had that alpha male personality to him, too,” Racioppi said.
“If you watch the Bills play that entire team loves him. That’s another thing Daniel’s gotta work on, too. Does the entire organization, is every guy on that roster would run through a brick wall for that roster? If you watch the Bills play they’ll do that for Josh Allen.”
Racioppi is also bullish on Jones.
“He can make all the throws, that’s never been an issue. Two, I don’t think people know how athletic he really is ... you see the stuff he can really do,” Racioppi said.
“I think Daniel has elite ability. You see that jump out on film at times. You see some of those dig throws he made … next level kind of stuff. You’re just looking for more consistency out of it.”
Schofield pointed to the Allen example and preached patience.
“I hope that teams look at the Josh Allen example and see a team that practiced patience with a young quarterback and follow that model,” Schofield said.
“I hope this organization practices some patience with him and has some continuity around him so he doesn’t have to learn yet another system for 2021.”
Racioppi, a record-setting quarterback at Division III Rowan University, who had tryouts with the Jets and Dolphins, also preached patience.
“You talked about how important it is to believe in the quarterback. It’s huge. You look back at some of those Hall of Famers first two or three years. It wasn’t pretty. Look at Peyton’s first year. Look at Eli’s first year,” Racioppi said. “The Giants believed in Eli, so they stuck with him and let him get through it and put people around him and he played in a system that he got comfortable with.”
Schofield said that while Garrett “bears some responsibility” for the issues with the 2020 Giants’ offense that “stability around Daniel Jones is obviously huge” for the development of both the quarterback and the offense.
Discussing Jason Garrett
When an offense finishes 31st in points scored and yards gained, the offensive coordinator is naturally going to draw fire from the fan base and the media. Thus, complaints about Jason Garrett are no surprise.
How much fault should be placed at Garrett’s feet for the poor offensive performance? Should he be brought back if he doesn’t leave of his own accord? More long-range, what can Garrett do to help Jones perhaps make an Allen-esque leap in Year 3?
Racioppi said he has known Garrett since he was 12 years old.
“People ask if Jason should be back. Absolutely I think Jason should be back. Listen, this year if they struggle big time or Daniel doesn’t play great or he plays the same or maybe he gets a little worse, OK, that’s a conversation to have next year,” Racioppi said.
“I’m looking for, now you know your pieces Jason, now you know what guys can do, hopefully you add some guys in free agency and the draft, things you miss in that offense that hopefully you can get and then adding stuff we’re talking about. Helping the young quarterback find completions.”
Racioppi said Jones seemed comfortable by season’s end.
“You see Daniel just so comfortable in things why would you want to change that up on him again?,” Racioppi said. “When you start understanding what the coach wants from you that’s when you can really take the next jump. Seeing the same concepts over and over and over again. It’s just different formations and window dressing, but it’s the same stuff, same concepts.”
“Personnel, play caller, protection”
Those are the three Ps Racioppi says every quarterback needs in place to be successful. Where do the Giants stand on those fronts?
Both Schofield and Racioppi acknowledge they believe that the Giants would be best-served if Garrett returned to call the offense again in 2021. That doesn’t mean changes to the offensive scheme don’t need to be made.
The Giants were near the bottom of the league in using things like pre-snap motion and play-action passing.
“Smart offenses steal from smart offenses all the time. If you see something that works for one team you’re going to do it for another,” Schofield said.
“I’ve seen for years Tom Brady, arguably the greatest of all time, and Josh McDaniels doing so much from a motion and pre-snap movement perspective to give him confidence in what he’s getting after the snap.“A knowledgeable quarterback is a confident quarterback is a good quarterback.
“When you do those things to help your quarterback, whether it’s Tom Brady, 20-year veteran, or Daniel Jones, guy entering his third year, the quarterback is going to be better after the snap and he’s going to be a better quarterback overall. I was banging the table all season long for things like motion and play action in this offense. Those are the ways to give the quarterback that information.
“Garrett did some of that, but incorporating more of that is going to help Daniel.”
Schofield also said that the Giants need to incorporate more vertical elements, provided they can protect Jones well enough. Verticality was expected from Garrett’s offense, but really didn’t come to fruition as Jones was 21st in the league in passing attempts of 20 or more yards.
Jones has the league’s best passer rating on deep throws, 132.5.
“And yet he barely attempted more deep throws this year than he did last year in what was supposed to be more vertical of an offense,” Schofield said. [Jones actually had fewer — 54-43].
Racioppi also had a couple of suggestions for Garrett.
“There’s more stuff you can do within the skills guys that they have. I know he’s going to do that,” Racioppi said. “I’d like to see them move the pocket a little more.”
Racioppi pointed to the bootleg-heavy offenses run by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco and Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams.
“I think he [Jones] would do well in that … it’s just flood concepts, it’s easy reads, it’s high school offense … it’s moving the pocket, it’s moving the launch point, which helps the protection. It’s using his athletic ability and it’s half-field reads. It’s simple,” Racioppi said. “I think it’s stuff he’s going to see and break down and add to their offense in the offseason.”
The return of Saquon Barkley will help, as would a true No. 1 receiver. Schofield and Racioppi, though, think the Giants don’t need an overhaul.
“I think the personnel’s there. I know a lot of those guys personally through my time working with quarterbacks or having those guys come down and work with me or my quarterbacks in the area,” said Racioppi, acknowledging that a big-time wide receiver would help.
“Josh Allen did fantastic, but I think Stefon Diggs has a lot to do with it. I know he has a lot to do with it. There was a big jump with a guy who can just win when you need him to win.”
Schofield echoed that sentiment:
“I think the pieces are kind of there. It’s just the chef getting the ingredients to come out right,” he said.
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