Many of the same issues that dogged the NY Giants’ offense under Jason Garrett reared their head in Freddie Kitchens’ first game as offensive coordinator
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Raise your hand if you could tell a difference between the NY Giants’ offense with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays into Daniel Jones’ headset Sunday from the outfit Jason Garrett operated over the prior 26 games.
It was always unrealistic for the NY Giants to reinvent their offensive scheme and identity in the five days since Garrett was fired, following a listless and uninspired showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Kitchens is going to be wearing the same albatross around his neck in his audition as Garrett’s full-time replacement as his predecessor; one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
But, Sunday was very much the new NY Giants masquerading as some sort of band-aided new NY Giants with Daniel Jones wearing a wristband that helped him identify the plays that corresponded to the calls Kitchens made.
Yards from scrimmage? Kitchens’ NY Giants produced 264, after Garrett’s averaged 317.5.
Saquon Barkley could only manage 40 rushing yards, despite breaking loose for his longest run of the season, a 32-yard scamper in the first-half.
The biggest difference, was the result, a win, just the Giants’ 10th over the past 27 games. The score, 13-7, very much in line with New York’s 16.6 points per game average over that span.
Kenny Golladay dropped several passes. Daniel Jones failed to connect on at least two back-shoulder throws in the end zone that fell incomplete when they failed to reach even Golladay’s front shoulder in coverage.
“We’ve just got to make plays,” Jones said after the game, when he was once again pressed on New York’s dreadful and league-worst red-zone offense that finished 1-of-3 against the Eagles. “It’s the same thing I’ve said before when we’ve gotten those questions. We’ve got to make plays and it comes down to players in those situations. We’ve got to give guys chances and we’ll look to do that.”
One of the biggest chances this offense has had all season to flex its muscles, and salt out a win, came with 1:34 remaining when NY Giants safety Julian Love recovered a fumble by Eagles running back Boston Scott.
Instead of being able to matriculate the ball down the field, or even chew enough clock to get into victory formation after forcing Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni to burn all three of his timeouts; Riley Dixon punted the ball back to Philadelphia 23 seconds later.
“Yes, definitely,” Giants running back Saquon Barkley said, when asked by FanSided if he was disappointed the offense couldn’t close the game out on its own. “Obviously, it was third-and-two. I’m not pointing fingers at nobody or nothing. As a whole, we’ve got to do better. We have to have a sense of urgency there. That’s something that we’ve got to continue to preach.”
An inability to sustain drives put Sunday’s game in peril, but has been an ongoing issue with this offense all season.
It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was Kitchens or Garrett calling plays, this offense is fundamentally broken, as evident by at one point four of seven drives finishing three-and-out against the Eagles.
Much of the Giants’ issues on offense are tied to the offensive line’s ineptitude; Barkley’s struggles to shake loose and break off the kinds of runs that propelled him to an 1,800-yard from scrimmage rookie campaign, Kenny Golladay seeing 34 targets entering Sunday, sitting 24th in third-down efficiency, all of it, can be tied to the line’s inability to create holes and keep pressure off Jones.
Garrett’s undoing was a lack of creativity and reluctance to push the ball downfield.
The next seven games will be telling if Kitchens is able to strike the right aggressiveness or if he too will be undone by New York’s woeful offensive line and underachieving playmakers.
His prospects of becoming the NY Giants’ permanent offensive coordinator may hinge on his ability to overcome them.