The Giants feel like a team that has been left behind in this era of explosive offensive football. Teams light up the scoreboard around the NFL on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, for the Giants, the scoreboard is always so dark.
It’s not a new problem for them. They’ve been a bad offensive football team for at least the past four seasons. But they’ve sunk to new lows in 2020, and it cost them dearly in the wide-open NFC East race.
That’s why when this is over – win or lose, playoffs or not – there’s a chance it could cost offensive coordinator Jason Garrett his job.
Though there’s no indication that Garrett’s job as the Giants’ offensive coordinator is definitely in jeopardy, there’s plenty of speculation around the NFL that it could be, which makes sense considering that only the anemic Jets stand between the Giants and being the worst offense in the league. They are averaging a pathetic 17.1 points and 297.2 yards per game. They haven’t topped 20 points in a game since mid-November. They’ve only topped 30 points once.
And in the last three games, with the season on the line, the Giants have totaled 26 points.
That’s a ridiculous 8.7 points per game.
Clearly such a lack of production isn’t acceptable. So when Giants head coach Joe Judge begins his offseason analysis – either this week or in the next few weeks, depending on what happens on Sunday – he will surely conclude that a revived defense carried his team, while the offense failed it.
The big question will be whether the 54-year-old Garrett takes the blame for that or whether Judge gives him a pass based on the difficult circumstances of this year. It was never going to be easy for an offensive coordinator to install a new system through a virtual offseason and with no preseason games. And it was going to be particularly challenging to do it with a young quarterback learning his second offense in his second season in the NFL.
And all that was before the big blow, in Week 2, when the Giants lost their best player, Saquon Barkley, to a torn ACL. There is no doubt that most of Garrett’s system was built around Barkley, and the Giants made no secret about wanting to be a run-dominant team. Losing Barkley was an enormous blow, especially since it was about a month after the injury before they were to re-establish much of a rushing attack at all.
Of course, it was Garrett’s job to find a way to overcome all that, and he never did. And things really bottomed out for the offense over the last month, as quarterback Daniel Jones battled through a hamstring and ankle injury that made him miss two games, too. In the last three games the Giants have averaged 238.6 yards. So there’s no mystery why they lost all three and dropped out of first place.
But those hideous numbers aren’t the only reason for the speculation about Garrett’s job security. Remember, the Garrett-Judge partnership was an arranged marriage of sorts. Garrett wasn’t forced upon him, but the decision was strongly suggested and encouraged by Giants co-owner John Mara, who had long been enamored with Garrett since he was a Giants backup quarterback. Even on the day the Giants announced that Judge was hired, Mara talked about his “respect” for Garrett and said “I certainly wouldn’t have any objection” if he was hired.
Judge may not have been told to hire Garrett, but there’s no doubt Mara’s preference – and his desire for Judge to hire men who had previous experience as an NFL head coach — had an impact on a 38-year-old in his first NFL head coaching job.
Only Judge knows if he would’ve hired someone else had he been left totally on his own. Some sources said he was interested in Freddie Kitchens, who eventually joined the Giants as the tight ends coach, and who would seem like a possible replacement if Garrett is fired. Others thought he had his eyes on Chad O’Shea, a former Patriots receivers coach when Judge was in New England who is now the passing game coordinator with the high-flying Cleveland Browns. The Giants also asked permission to interview Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, though that permission was denied.
And Judge has clearly shown he will not hesitate to make a coaching change if he believes it’s in the Giants’ best interest or if the fit isn’t right. He did that earlier this season when he first hired Dave DeGuglielmo as a consultant to help with the struggling offensive line, only to make him the O-line coach a few days later when he fired Marc Colombo.
It’s worth noting that Judge interviewed DeGuglielmo, another former Patriots assistant, for the offensive line coach job back in January before hiring Colombo, who had been Garrett’s offensive line coach in Dallas.
But that past doesn’t matter nearly as much as the present, in which the offense has just been abysmal. Garrett isn’t the reason for that – at least not the sole reason — but there’s no doubt he failed to find a solution to the team’s biggest problem. That’s why, when the Giants think about how to fix it for next season, Garrett could be the one who takes the fall.
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