Dave Gettleman said the Giants are "antsy" about the prospect of losing offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to a head-coaching job, but they are not stopping him from an interview with the Chargers that reportedly will take place on Friday.
Unlike defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was reeled back from any potential head-coaching interviews with a contract extension (which, according to a source, reflected Graham’s preference to remain with the Giants for at least one more season anyway), Garrett has not been offered a new deal or a raise to come back in 2021.
While the Giants would like Garrett to return and give quarterback Daniel Jones the stability of a second year in an offensive system, they seem prepared for life without Garrett.
"There always needs to be adjustments year to year," Joe Judge said this week. "The league is always evolving. You’re always trying to find more creative ways to do things. For any player on the team, notably the quarterback, it’s important to have a solid base. But they have to evolve in their careers as we go along the way as well. You can’t be afraid of changes or adjustments within your own systems or schemes, adding different types of plays, finding different ways of being creative within your own personnel."
In other words, even if Garrett does return, it won’t be the same exact offense for Jones.
Nor should it be. The one the Giants used in 2020 left them ranked 31st in the NFL in yardage and points scored. And Jones’ numbers were diminished in 2020 as well. After 24 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions as a rookie, he had 11 touchdown passes and 10 picks this season.
No matter who comes back and who doesn’t, changes will need to be made in personnel, scheme and perhaps even coaching approaches.
If Garrett does land a head-coaching job, the Giants would have some in-house candidates. When Garrett missed a game because of COVID-19 last month, tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens replaced him as the play-caller. Kitchens and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski could be options for Judge. They would bring their own system but at least have the shared language and experience with Jones of having gone through 2020 under Garrett.
Jones, for his part, seemed to indicate a desire for Garrett to return.
"I’ve certainly enjoyed learning from Coach Garrett," he said. "I’ve learned a ton of football, I’ve learned a ton of philosophy on offense, how he sees the game, what he’s learned in his time in the NFL as a player and a coach. I’ve really enjoyed working with him. I look forward to continuing that."
When Judge hired Garrett last January, he knew it could be a one-year relationship. Garrett, after nine-plus seasons as head coach of the Cowboys, was bound to become a candidate for jobs in this cycle.
"I hope everybody on our staff has options to advance their careers at some point," Judge said at last year’s Senior Bowl. "That means business is good. We want our coaches to be wanted by other people. That means we’re doing a good job here."
Still, the idea of giving Jones something he has never had for the past few years — a season in which he does not have to learn an entirely new playbook and scheme — is alluring.
"We’re talking about a young quarterback who has had two different offensive coordinators in the NFL, two different systems," Gettleman said. "Obviously, he had a different one at Duke, so he got three different systems in three years."
Can he handle a possible fourth?
"We'll adjust and adapt and do what we have to do," Gettleman said.
Notes & quotes: The Giants waived RB Devonta Freeman from injured reserve, a procedural move that indicates the pending free agent is healthy. They also signed WR David Sills to a renegotiated exclusive rights contract. Sills, who finished the year on injured reserve and reserve/COVID-19, was cleared from the COVID list but remains on IR . . . The Giants also re-signed versatile veteran QB Joe Webb, whom they released for the last game of the season. Webb appeared in two games with only special teams snaps.