All together now…
Daniel Jones: “I think communication was good today, and I know it was a collaborative effort with all the coaches on offense.”
Saquon Barkley: “First of all, all the offensive coaches did a great job collectively.”
Chris Myarick: “It really was a big collaborative effort in terms of the whole offense coming together. I think all of the coaches did a great job putting together a game plan that we thought would work.”
We get it. Collaborative effort. Collective effort.
The Giants were buying Joe Judge’s agenda and talking points from the moment Jason Garrett was fired as offensive coordinator. Heck, in the following days, Judge refused to acknowledge that Freddie Kitchens, the senior offensive assistant, would replace Garrett as the play-caller, though it was readily apparent. It is going to be a collective effort, Judge said. A collaborative effort, if you will.
It is not happenstance that after beating the Eagles, 13-7, the players used those exact words to describe how the offense changed with Kitchens calling the shots.
It was actually sort of amusing that the only confirmation of Kitchens’ new role came when Jones was asked whether Kitchens was, in fact, the coach making the calls into Jones’ headset.
“He was, yeah,” Jones said, almost sheepishly.
Judge was asked after the game specifically about how it went with Kitchens calling the plays. Judge did not praise Kitchens or even mention him directly.
“I was pleased with the way the offensive coaches worked throughout the week,” Judge said. “I was pleased with how they communicated on the sideline, made some adjustments.”
Fine. Judge did not want to make it about individuals, did not want to promulgate the “Garrett bad, Kitchens (hopefully) better” narrative. This was not going to be a Freddie Kitchens overhaul of the offense. Quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and tight ends coach Derek Dooley were all going to have input, as well as offensive line coach Rob Sale. Judge is always going to have his hand in the concepts, probably more so now with Garrett gone.
With Kitchens making the play calls, the Giants passed the ball on first down on their first three offensive series. This was a departure from the norm. Jones’ first first-down pass was incomplete. The second went to Barkley for 1 yard. The third went to Darius Slayton for 18 yards.
After that, the Giants ran the ball on first down five times in their last six series. The first time they ran it on first down, Barkley ran for 32 yards. After that, the first-down production was terrible: a pass to Barkley for no gain, a reverse to Slayton for a loss of 13 yards (this is hard to do), a run by Barkley for 1 yard, a run by Jones for 4 yards, a run by Barkley for 1 yard.
Garrett knew the extreme limitations of the offensive line he was handed and tried to navigate around its deficiencies. The Giants are middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed (23 sacks, 16th in the league), but their line is not at all strong as a run-blocking unit. Against the Eagles, Jones was not sacked in 30 pass attempts. When they were forcing the Eagles to burn their timeouts and Jones went down for an 8-yard loss on third down, that statistically goes down as a sack.
On the ground, the Giants averaged 2.6 yards on 27 running plays. If Kitchens can fix this, he is a miracle worker. Even if it is a collaborative effort to get it done.
More that came out of win No. 4 for the Giants:
- The Giants went 3-5 at home in 2020. They have already matched that win total at MetLife this season, and with two home games remaining (Cowboys and Washington), the Giants have a chance for their first winning record at home since 2016, when they were 7-1. Since then, they are 12-26 playing in front of their fans in their home building. Under Joe Judge, the Giants are 4-0 at home against their NFC East rivals, which makes the fans happy.
- Judge inherited a seven-game losing streak to the Eagles and then he lost his first game against the Eagles last season to run the losing streak to eight games. Now he has won two in a row from the Eagles.
- James Bradberry has had a noticeable dropoff in his second season with the Giants, though he remains the best cornerback on the team. But his performance against the Eagles was noticeable for the right reasons: He dominated his duel with DeVonta Smith, the outstanding rookie from Alabama, limiting Smith to two receptions for 22 yards. Smith was targeted only four times by Jalen Hurts, and looked extremely frustrated as he approached head coach Nick Sirianni prior to the Eagles’ final play — a pass that instead went to Jalen Reagor, who failed to secured it at the Giants’ 1-yard line.
“He wants the ball in a critical situation like that,’’ Sirianni said. “They were playing two-man in that scenario, and they had played it three snaps in a row. And it was two-man on that one as well. The type of the play that he wanted in that scenario wasn’t going to be good. But I love the fact that he wants the ball in crunch time and wants it on his shoulders when the game is on the line. That’s what he was telling me, and I respect that. We had to do what we thought was best for that one with the coverages they were playing. We didn’t execute.’’
The frustration was evidence that Bradberry wore on Smith.
“He’s an explosive player,” Judge said of Smith. “This guy is everything everyone thought he could be coming out. He is one of the top players at his position in the league. That’s a lot to say now at a young age, but this guy is really a special type of player. … Next time we see him, I’m sure they’re going to have a different plan and find a way to match us up and create ways to get him open. We’ve got to keep improving with our techniques as a team and put them in a position to be successful.”
- Julian Love is not the best player in the secondary, but he is one of the most versatile — sort of a younger version of Logan Ryan. With Ryan on the Reserve/COVID list and missing a second straight game, Love started at free safety and played all 67 defensive snaps. When Adoree’ Jackson left early due to a quad injury, Love moved inside to fill the slot cornerback role. Love also played 11 snaps on special teams. He finished with four combined tackles, one-half sack and one fumble recovery. The more you can do.
- Lorenzo Carter returned after missing four games because of a sprained ankle. He received a hefty workload, starting at outside linebacker and playing 43 of the 67 snaps on defense. Carter did not get much accomplished as a pass rusher and he finished with only one tackle, though it was a big one: stopping Hurts a yard short on the end zone on second-and-goal from the Giants’ 2-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half. On the next play, Tae Crowder intercepted Hurts to complete a strong goal line stand.
- All five starting offensive linemen played all 60 snaps. Remember when Matt Peart was going to be rotated in at right tackle, replacing Nate Solder? That plan has been deep-sixed. Peart was on the field for nine snaps when used as an extra tight end/blocker in jumbo run packages. Clearly, the coaching staff does not trust Peart for a series or two, because it is not as if Solder is doing anything special to warrant never coming off the field.