There’s no way to sugarcoat the New York Giants’ offensive struggles under interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. In five games since firing Jason Garrett, the Giants have averaged 11.8 points per game, topping 10 points only once. Daniel Jones appeared in only one of those games, but that can’t fully account for the lack of production from expected playmakers like Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley.
While speaking to the media on Thursday, Kitchens was hesitant to label the past few weeks as his audition to stay on as offensive coordinator.
“I don’t really think of it at all, to be honest with you. I truly go out here every day and try to get better as a coach and do what I can to help the players succeed and put them in position to have the opportunity to be successful. That’s where my main focus is rather than what I’m going to be doing in my career,” Kitchens said.
“I always want to advance my career. I think if you’re in this business to not do that, what are you in it for? We coach at the highest level of football and so you try to do the best job you can every day and wherever it takes you, it takes you.”
When asked about Golladay’s struggles — the wide receiver saw a season-high eight targets in each of his last three games but caught only a third of them — Kitchens remained committed to his current system.
“I think Kenny’s continuing to try to work and refine his craft every time he goes on the field. Everybody wants more opportunities. Everybody wants to be successful in those opportunities,” Kitchens said. We’re going to continue to try to do the same thing. We want to try to get the ball to Kenny. We want to try to get the ball to (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley). We want to try to get the ball to all these guys that have the ability to make plays. Kenny’s not unlike any of the others.”
Kadarius Toney has flashed more of the explosiveness the Giants were looking for and has found a larger role in the offense when he’s on the field. Toney has seen nine or more targets four times, more than Golladay has ever received this year.
Injuries have held Toney out of five games and limited him in others, but Kitchens believes opposing defenses have started planning for the first-round pick.
“Anytime you have a special player like Kadarius on the field, you try to get him the ball as much as you can,” Kitchens said. “Everybody in the stadium knows you’re trying to get him the ball the most that you can, so any way you cut it, you try to get the ball to guys that make the plays.”
Offensive lineman Andrew Thomas has been the most promising part of this otherwise lost season. The Giants’ trip to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday will be a rematch of Thomas’ second-ever game, a 17-13 loss in which New York allowed four sacks and five quarterback hits. A year later, Thomas is playing like one of the league’s best tackles. He has allowed one sack in his last 462 snaps.
“I think Andrew played well at times last year,” Kitchens said. “I think the expectation level for Andrew has gone up for himself and I know we had high expectations for him, but if the player doesn’t have high expectations for themselves, it really doesn’t matter. I think his expectation level went up, which caused his playing ability to go up. Everybody knows he’s a talented player, but there’s a lot of talent out there that doesn’t really get there. Andrew’s done a good job on a consistent basis.”
With two games remaining and losses continuing to pile up, Kitchens remains confident that head coach Joe Judge has the right philosophy in place for the franchise to progress.
“I think these guys are continuing to play hard. It’s the fact that these guys go out to work every day on the practice field and every day on the game field,” Kitchens said. “Sometimes you don’t get the results that you want, but it doesn’t mean that’s a lack of effort or a lack of opportunity or a lack of trying from a player standpoint. Football is a game about the players. The players are trying to do the best they can to their ability to be successful.”