Freddie Kitchens took over the play-calling duties Sunday following Jason Garrett’s firing.
Sunday commenced a new era in the history of the New York Giants franchise.
The team and its fanbase finally stumbled upon the post-Jason Garrett period. New York fired the now-former offensive coordinator last week after the Giants scored just 10 points in the Week 11 loss to Tampa Bay.
It was a move long overdue — the Giants were second-to-last in both total offense and points in 2020 (Garrett’s first year as the OC) and were 23rd and 25th in total offense and scoring under Garrett’s watch this season.
Freddie Kitchens, the Giants senior offensive assistant and former Browns head coach, thus took over the play-calling duties for Sunday’s win over Philly.
The offense didn’t flip a switch under Kitchens, but if you thought the unit was going to do just that, you were in the wrong.
Big Blue, unsurprisingly to the intelligent portion of the fanbase, scored just 13 points, gained only 264 total yards, and was 3-for-12 on third down.
It’s not shocking, because as I mentioned yesterday in the postgame piece, you can’t make chicken salad out of…well…I won’t say the full quote (we like to keep it PG here).
A new play-caller wasn’t (and isn’t) going to change everything. Whether it’s Garrett or Kitchens calling the plays, the Giants are still dealing with an inconsistent offensive line, a young quarterback who can’t be fully relied on, an ineffective running game, and injuries to various weapons.
The struggling Hog Mollies
Left guard Shane Lemieux and center Nick Gates are on injured reserve and are currently being replaced by Matt Skura and Billy Price, who are respectively scoring poor 53.0 and 55.6 Pro Football Focus grades.
Not to mention, Nate Solder is still the primary right tackle, and the struggling veteran (who should’ve never been brought back in the first place) is scoring a 55.7 PFF grade.
DJ a true QB1?
Daniel Jones still hasn’t shown why he should be the long-term answer at the team’s most important position. While he’s completing 64.3% of his throws, the third-year signal-caller is averaging just 220.7 yards per game with 10 touchdowns, seven picks, and an 84.8 passer rating.
He’s nowhere near as effective as he needs to be, which is especially an issue when you don’t employ an efficient running game.
And speaking of which…
Saquon’s final year in blue?
The Giants may be deciding at the end of the year whether to keep running back Saquon Barkley. The fourth-year player’s rookie contract doesn’t run out until the conclusion of the 2022 campaign (the Giants exercised his fifth-year option) but the organization might have the opportunity to trade him this coming offseason.
Right now, Barkley isn’t making a case for why he should remain in East Rutherford.
No, the offensive line isn’t strong. But Saquon is nowhere near the player he was back during his 2018 rookie campaign, which has contributed to the weak running game as a whole.
Barkley rushed for just 40 yards on 13 carries (3.1 yards per carry) against Philly and is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry through seven games this year.
At the moment, the Giants are 26th in the NFL with 90.8 total rushing yards per game — not ideal when you don’t have a quarterback who can bail you out in that area either.
The overflowing medical tent
The Giants cannot stay healthy on the offensive side of the ball.
Sterling Shepard (quad) missed his third straight game and rookie Kadarius Toney (quad) was also sidelined. The Giants were additionally short on tight ends, with Kyle Rudolph (ankle) and Kaden Smith (knee) not playing due to their respective injuries.
It’s tough to feed pancakes to your family of six when you don’t have a great deal of batter — simply speaking, the Giants offense didn’t have much to work with Sunday afternoon.
Improvement still must be located
Look, the Giants did win the game by a score of 13-7 (huge thanks to the defense, which intercepted Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts three times). Thus, I’ll try not to rain too much on the parade.
But there are various issues that remain on the offensive end, and you shouldn’t have thought all of them were going to magically be resolved just because Kitchens replaced Garrett.
Making chicken salad is impossible when you don’t have the right ingredients — the Giants still don’t, regardless of who’s calling the shots.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY
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