In 2019, the New York Giants used the sixth pick in the draft to select quarterback Daniel Jones out of Duke. He would go on to have a solid but unspectacular rookie season. Despite flashing promise, he displayed a few key holes in his game. Entering last season, the Giants hired Jason Garrett to be the team’s offensive coordinator amidst a major overhaul of the coaching staff. Garrett was coming off of 9.5 seasons of coaching the division rival Dallas Cowboys.
Year 1 Under Garrett
Under new OC Jason Garrett, the Giants offense had relatively high expectations entering the season. With superstar RB Saquon Barkley, a promising rookie season from QB Daniel Jones, and a promising young group of pass-catchers, the offense was supposed to look much better in Jones’s second year. However, this notion of success was a stark contrast from the reality that unfolded. The team was buoyed by a top 10 defense, while held back due to a major regression in the offense. In 2019, the team finished 23rd in total offense, 19th in passing, and 18th in rushing. Then last season, they dropped down to 31st in total offense, 29th in passing, and 19th in rushing. Yet, an even more concerning trend for fans: the regression of Daniel Jones.
Jones, who showed real promise during his rookie season, saw a serious drop in his numbers. Jones’ pass attempts, yardage totals, and TDs all took a drop in his sophomore season. This recession occurred despite playing one more game than he did in his rookie year. While many factors certainly played into Jones’ sophomore regression, the poor play-calling off Garrett certainly seemed to only hurt the young QB. The offense Garrett called lacked creativity and thus became incredibly predictable at times. In addition, Garrett failed to capitalize on the strengths of his young signal-caller. As a rookie, ‘Danny Dimes’ was at his best when he was allowed to buy time with his legs, making plays on the move, and throwing downfield. Garrett’s offense forced Jones to focus on his first read, a concept he struggled with mightily.
Why Keep Him?
Despite struggles in his first season, GM Dave Gettleman opted to bring back Garrett for another year. This move came as a shock to many. Why would Gettleman bring back the coordinator who ran the second-worst offense in the NFL? The primary reason: continuity. In three seasons as general manager of the Giants, Gettleman has had three different offensive coordinators. In Daniel Jones’s first two seasons, he has had two. Gettleman and the rest of the Giants’ front office knew that thrusting their young QB into his third system in as many years is far from a recipe for success.
When reflecting on Garrett’s performance in his first year, the team also had to take into account the circumstances. Like the rest of the league, Garrett and the Giants had no training camp before the season. While this presented a challenge to all teams, players trying to learn a new system had an even greater challenge. For a sophomore QB, first-year head coach, and new OC, it is always going to take time to get adjusted to the new system. This was a team that had to learn on the fly, and that included the coaching staff. In addition to these challenges, the Giants had to deal with the loss of RB Saquon Barkley. He is an immensely talented player and one that you build your entire offense around. Losing him meant that Garrett had to scheme an offense on the fly without his key player. That situation would be difficult on any coordinator, and especially one in his first season with a new team. Gettleman decided Garrett needed another chance with Jones and the offense. The question still remains, however…
Can Daniel Jones and the Offense Improve In Year 2?
The answer to this question will decide on a few deciding factors. First, the Giants’ front office needs to add more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Last season, Danny was the victim of atrocious drops time after time, seemingly at the most critical times in games. (I’m looking at you, Evan Engram). To put Jones and Garrett in the best position to succeed, Gettleman will need to improve the receiving core. With a stacked WR free-agent class and deep draft, he will have no shortage of options to do so. Look for the Giants to be involved with names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay in free agency. They will also keep a close eye on draft candidates such as Devonta Smith, Ja’marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and Kyle Pitts. If they are able to add a game-changing pass-catcher to an offense that already has Barkley and some decent secondary receivers, Jones could take a big leap. (Look at what Josh Allen did this season after acquiring Stefon Diggs)
Another key to progression for the offense will be the play of the offensive line. The unit finished 31st in pass blocking (Pro Football Focus ranking). This made life incredibly challenging for Jones and the offense. Despite this abysmal ranking, however, there is a reason for optimism in this area. After a horrid 1-7 start, Judge fired then OL coach Mark Columbo. Following that move, the line did look much improved, and the offense did as well. The Giants would finish out the season 5-3. Over the second half of the season, Rookie OT Andrew Thomas looked promising, as did C Nick Gates. Even fifth-round pick LG Shane Lemieux flashed talent and potential. Continued progression from their offensive line would be a huge help to both Jones and Garrett and will be pivotal if this offense is to take a leap in its second season.
Can Daniel Jones survive another year of Jason Garrett? Tentatively, the answer I will say is yes. When the offensive line was playing well, we saw flashes of what Daniel Jones was capable of, in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. For the first time in his young career, he won’t have to deal with the pressure of learning another new system. With a healthy Saquon Barkley and a (hopefully) improved group of playmakers, he should have every opportunity to be much improved this upcoming season. Will Jason Garrett be able to scheme ways to maximize the talents of his young offensive players? Only time will tell. One thing, however, is for sure: IF Garrett can turn this offense around and combine that with the team’s already elite defense, the New York Giants could be a dangerous team in the NFC this season.