After finishing in the bottom five in every offensive category in the 2020 season, New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett knows that continuous growth is key to the team’s success in the upcoming season.
The first steps towards a more explosive offensive were taken this past Saturday when the Giants played the Jets in their preseason opener. Garrett said that the starting group played about 19 snaps in the matchup.
“I think it was a good learning experience for them,” Garrett said. “Some young guys who haven’t played a lot of football had to battle through some things and certainly when the real young guys went in for most of the game, it was great to see them. It’s an opportunity for them to take it from here, this practice field, and go out and play in a game and see how they respond to that.”
For Garrett, each practice and preseason game is an opportunity for improvement at the individual and team level.
“You go through training camp and you practice against each other and then you go through the process of planning these preseason games,” Garrett said. “Typically, it’s a ramp up as you go in preseason, so they’ll play more as we get going and it was just good to see them out there. Guys need to play, guys need to play individually. They need to play together and that’s the process we’re in right now.”
Below are some of the other takeaways from Garrett’s media session on Tuesday.
On Daniel Jones’ decision-making
Daniel Jones famously threw just one more touchdown than interception in the 2020 season and he was sacked 45 times, good for fourth-worst in the league. As the former Blue Devil enters his third season in the NFL, both his physical ability and mental strength will be scrutinized.
“Daniel approaches it the right way,” Garrett said. “I think the biggest thing for him is to play with his teammates, play with the guys up front, get that communication right. Play with the receivers, be out there and all the different situations that you come across and learn and grow from them.”
Garrett knows that Jones’ comfort in the pocket is directly tied to the comfort level of the teammates around him.
“At different times last year we had to evolve based on the people we had to try to help our team win and we’ll do the same thing this year,” Garrett said. “If we have to do more or less or a little more of this and a little more of that, that’s what we’ll try to do. You’re trying to play to your player’s strengths and try to minimize any weaknesses that they have as much as you can and that’s across the board.”
On Sandro Plartzgummer’s 48-yard runn
Austrian running Sandro Platzgummer back broke away for a 48-yard gain Saturday night against the Jets, much to the joy of Platzgummer’s teammates.
“It was spectacular,” Garrett said of Platzgummer’s run. “I think if you look at the side copy of the film and you see the eruption on our sidelines, it was everybody. There was a mike linebacker who had a chance to get him in the end zone and he makes that guy miss. He makes the safety miss. He gets out in the open field. It could have been an 18-yard run, he sized the guy up, cuts laterally and makes it a 48-yard run. For a guy like that to get an opportunity and then take advantage of it like that, it was really fun to see, and I think our players responded accordingly.”
On depth at tight end
Meanwhile, another offensive group suffering from injuries are the tight ends. Kyle Rudolph, who was acquired by the Giants from the Vikings this offseason, is recovering from a foot injury. While he has not been able to be on the field, Garrett said that he is still contributing off of it.
“He’s a veteran presence,” Garrett said. “He picks things up quickly, even though he hasn’t gotten reps, he understands what we’re trying to do. He can help the younger players and he’s working really hard to get back. A really good example to the rest of his teammates and we’re excited to get them out there.”
The Giants also lost tight end Levine Toilolo to a season-ending foot injury, calling the depth of the tight end group as a whole into question. Garrett said that injuries, while unfortunate, provide more opportunities for younger players, including Cole Hikutini, Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Jake Hausmann.
“It’s reps in practice, hopefully reps in the preseason game and those guys can grow,” Garrett said. “Certainly, no decisions have been made. We just want to see those guys play.”
Garrett also highlighted Rysen John, who is in the second year of his conversion to the receiving role.
“He’s learning to play the tight end position and all the things that are involved with it,” Garrett said. “It’s a complicated position. You gotta be able to run block and pass protect and run routes at all different levels. We ask our tight ends to do a lot and he’s most natural doing the stuff that relate to receiving and we saw that the other night. He just has to grow in the other areas.”
On Matt Peart’s preseason debut
Tackle Matt Peart played in 11 games during his rookie season last year and will look to earn himself more playing time in 2021. He allowed a sack on the first drive of Saturday’s preseason game against the Jets but Garrett praised Peart’s response to the mistake.
“It wasn’t a good play, but it was a good response. I think after that he settled in a little bit more, did a good job both in the run game and as a protector,” Garrett said. “It wasn’t perfect by any means, but he was one of those guys we’re talking about. Matt’s a young player who’s got a lot of tools. He needs to play against NFL players in a game-type situation. To see him respond the way that he did, that was a positive thing for him.”
On the value of joint practices
The Giants will be in Berea, Ohio for two days of workouts with the Cleveland Browns before playing in a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. Garrett said that he is looking forward to seeing how his offense competes against the Browns’ defense.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us with the guys they have on their defense and their defensive scheme, so we’ll go run our offense against them,” Garrett said. “The guys who were available, let’s take advantage of that opportunity. The guys who aren’t available, stay close to it and try to learn what you can from the situation that you’re in. So continue to try to grow, continue to try to stack good days on top of each other.”
After Cleveland, the Giants will hit the road again as they travel to New England for two days of practices with the Patriots. Both teams will then play each other in the preseason finale at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 29.
“You go against other people, you hit other people, you see different systems,” Garrett said. “It’s naturally a little bit more uncomfortable. You don’t know how the other guys are, what the systems are, what the schemes are, so everybody has to respond to that and that’s a great opportunity to grow. I think it will be a good week for us in Cleveland and next week up in New England. I think we’ll grow as a team as a result.”