Kadarius Toney played just seven snaps in the New York Giants’ victory over the Tennessee Titans. Less-gifted receivers Richie James and David Sills played 42 and 27 snaps, respectively.
Giants’ fans have been asking why Toney, the Giants’ talented 2021 first-round pick, spent most of Sunday’s game watching from the sideline. During the game, Toney did not seem to understand, either.
Can someone tell me at home why this guy isn't playing? When he doesn't get that burn he's not a happy football player. #mindgames #Giants #KT pic.twitter.com/P4aROMJb5s— LPG - NYG (@LicensePlateGuy) September 11, 2022
Here is what head coach Brian Daboll said on Monday about Toney’s playing time.
“Kadarius is working his way back. Those are the plays. We had more than just seven plays for him, but they weren’t called. And we’ll see what happens this week. The guys that were out there, we have confidence in. We have confidence in Kadarius. I think, again, I’ve mentioned this before a couple of weeks ago with our receiver position: It’s a competitive situation. And they’ll be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. So, relative to inactives or playtime or amount of plays, everybody’s got to earn their role. One week it might be a whole game; one week it might be less. But Kadarius has done a good job of learning our stuff. I have no concerns about him knowing our information.”
Now, let’s decipher.
Reality is, Toney is right back where he was at this time last year.
He missed most of the spring practices as a rookie. Same this year.
He missed most of training camp as a rookie. Same this year.
He barely played in the first two games a year ago, getting five and then 19 snaps in Weeks 1 and 2. This year, seven snaps in the opener.
New year, new coaching staff, same situation.
Many snickered last season when then-offensive coordinator Jason Garrett answered a question about Toney’s lack of playing time in Weeks 1 and 2 this way:
“Kadarius hasn’t played a lot of football for us, yet. He missed the spring. He missed most of training camp. He practiced about three days before the season started, so he’s a young player who’s learning ... “The biggest thing with him is practicing day in and day out and developing some consistency. No fault of his, he’s just been hurt and been sick and has been dealing with some different things.”
If you really look at that, Daboll and Garrett are largely saying the same thing.
Garrett also said this after Toney played 46 snaps in Week 3:
“I think the biggest thing with him is that he missed a lot of time both in the spring and in training camp. Over the last few weeks, he’s been able to practice more. We want to play him. We drafted him in the first round, we want him to do well.”
It seems to me that we are in the same place. Toney is uber-talented. But, he really only started practicing a couple of weeks ago. He might know the playbook, but does he really KNOW the ins and outs of the various option routes in that playbook and have timing with and the trust of quarterback Daniel Jones on those plays? Probably not.
Sills has been Jones’ traveling buddy/practice companion/sidekick for several years now. They have on-field chemistry, and this Giants’ coaching staff is leaning into it.
James has been running the routes and catching the passes from Jones that were expected, and are eventually expected, to go to Toney since the Giants got on the field in the spring. That work proved valuable when James was the team’s most reliable receiver on Sunday.
Daboll has said several times that wide receiver is “a competitive situation.”
Daboll and GM Joe Schoen did not draft Toney. They are not blind to his athletic ability. They aren’t going to play him, though simply because of where the previous regime drafted him. When he earns the time, and the trust, he will play more.