With that in mind, let’s go through some ‘things I think’ after more than two weeks of practice — the majority of which I have been able to witness.
Daniel Jones and the offense
It has been hard to get a handle on the performance of the Giants’ quarterback and the offense so far in training camp. There is excitement regarding the possibilities with a creative offense that includes a lot of pre-snap motion and versatile personnel. That, though, does not mean the offense is a well-oiled juggernaut.
There has been some good. There has also been an awful lot of bad, with lots of off-target or head-scratching throws from Jones, and some obvious miscommunications. It’s all hard to make sense of, to be honest, because we aren’t sure exactly what we’re seeing on a play-to-play basis.
The Giants’ braintrust has reminded us over and over that the Giants are installing a complex passing game, melding the ideas of head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, and trying to fit that around what the team’s personnel — including the quarterback — does best. There are options in many of the pass routes that are going to take study and repetition to get right.
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka believes the Giants are “right on schedule” in developing their offense.
“I think that communication really has gotten a lot better. In the meeting rooms, those guys are getting a lot more vocal. Not just the quarterbacks, but the receivers making sure that, ‘Hey Daniel. Okay if it’s – I saw it this way.’ And then vice versa. Daniel saying, ‘I think you should hit it like this, or show me this body language.,’ “ Kafka said. “So, I think over the last week, week and a half, things have really gotten a lot better because they’re opening up their lines of communication. That’s what we’re stressing to these guys: Let’s talk. Not just receivers and quarterbacks, but O-line. Everyone’s got to get on the same page.”
Quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney said Tuesday that the Giants are still in the “process over results” phase.
“We’re all growing in this offense together. Some of those are maybe the first time he’s seen the guy run that route or the first time’s he’s seen that coverage against that play we’ve called,” Tierney said. “It’s all a learning experience right now, which are good They’re good discussions for us to have ... right now we’re about process over results ... the process is what we’re focused on. Let’s keep our process, let’s stay there and let’s go ahead and correct the things we need to correct.”
I think all of that is just a reminder that this is a work in progress, and also to keep in context that raw completion numbers from a training camp practice tell you very little about what may or may not have actually happened.
About that fight
I just want to make two quick points, both of which I made in the short YouTube video below.
First, NFL players throwing punches at other NFL players wearing helmets and full pads is dumb. The only person who can possibly get hurt is the guy throwing the punch.
Second, the difference in the way Brian Daboll reacted vs. the way Joe Judge reacted to a big brawl a year ago — 10-15 minutes of 100-yard sprints accompanied by a loud, F-Bomb filled tirade, was striking.
Daboll clearly got his message across without making a scene, embarrassing anyone or wrecking a practice.
“Sometimes that happens, but in no way do we condone that,” he said before Tuesday’s practice. “I spoke to the team and I spoke to the coaches. They know what the expectations [are]. We’re not going to lose composure like that.
“Tempers were up. I talked to the team, everybody involved. That’s not what we’re looking to do. We’re going to pride ourselves on being smart, tough, dependable. I’ve been around long enough to see certain things like that — on the third out of four days in pads — happen. It’s addressed. We’re not going to do that.”
Daboll treated men like men, and I’m sure his players noticed.
I’m glad starters will play Thursday
No experienced NFL player wants to play in preseason games, and when Giants’ front-line players take the field Thursday night everyone should be crossing their fingers that no key player gets hurt.
Still, I think Daboll is absolutely making the right decision by having his starters play in the game.
I was wrong a year ago when I supported Joe Judge’s decision NOT to have Daniel Jones and most of the starters play in the first two preseason games.
Skipping preseason games might be fine for Aaron Rodgers and other established teams and starts. It’s not fine for a starting over from rock bottom team like the Giants with five straight double-digit loss seasons, a brand-new offense that needs all the test-drive spins it can get, and a plethora of young players who need the experience.
The Giants need the work, and I’m glad Daboll is giving it to them. Just don’t kill me if somebody gets hurt.
The Giants have been — knock on wood — relatively fortunate when it comes to injuries thus far in training camp.
Unfortunately, the three big injuries that have suffered have all come to rookies — players who need every rep, every day of meetings as they learn how to be NFL players.
Guard Marcus McKethan was unlikely to have a major role on the 2022 Giants, but he was flashing some ability early in camp. His torn ACL, though, will keep him off the field for the rest of the year and put him back to square one when it comes to perhaps developing into a regular contributor.
Safety Dane Belton (broken collarbone) seemed to be headed toward a big role in three-safety sub packages. That may still be the case, but we’ve seen this before with Xavier McKinney, Aaron Robinson and even Elerson Smith. Missed time slows development.
Tight end/fullback Andre Miller (broken forearm) is likely headed toward spending the season on injured reserve. That’s unfortunate for a player who has flashed some ability and clearly intrigues the coaching staff, but needs every practice rep he can get as he transitions from being a college wide receiver.
Players who need strong preseasons
Here are five players who appear to need solid preseasons to establish themselves as legitimate 53-man roster candidates.
- Darius Slayton: We have talked about the fourth-year wide receiver a lot. One thing he does have going for him is an emerging connection with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a longtime friend and offseason training partner. Perhaps he can leverage that into making enough plays this preseason for the Giants to keep him around.
- Quincy Roche/Oshane Ximines: It feels like these two might be in competition for one roster spot. Entering camp, I would have considered Ximines a longshot and Roche a likely member of the 53-man roster. Now? I’m not so sure. Ximines has made more plays, and has gotten first-team opportunities that Roche has not.
- Gary Brightwell: I haven’t counted reps, but to my eyes it seems like the second-year running back has gotten far fewer than Antonio Williams or undrafted free agent rookie Jashaun Corbin. It feels like he needs to make some things happen on special teams, which is his forte, to stick around.
- Ben Bredeson: The backup center/guard situation is muddled. The Giants also have veteran free agent signees Max Garcia and Jamil Douglas. Bredeson, acquired last season via trade, has been working at center for the first time as well as guard. The center results have been sporadic, with some snapping troubles. If he’s going to have a spot on the 53-man roster, Bredeson is going to have to win it.