Kenny Golladay could have gone anywhere in the world in the offseason. He could have enjoyed the benefits of the $18.2 million he made from the Giants in his first season after signing as a free agent.
He chose to spend most of that time in New Jersey.
Because that’s where Daniel Jones was going to be, the wide receiver said on Monday, and he wanted to stick close to the quarterback to try to build a rapport that, despite hundreds of reps of effort during the previous months, never quite materialized.
Mainly because of injuries — Golladay was sidelined through training camp and for three games in midseason; Jones’ season ended six weeks prematurely — the two connected on only 23 passes for 372 yards and a glaring zero in the touchdown column.
Together they set out to try to fix that lack of an on-field dynamic between them and learn the new playbook, a system Golladay said is “very receiver- friendly” and should help boost both of their numbers . . . if they can figure things out.
“[It’s about] talking to him, going over things during film sessions and really just taking what the defense gives you,” Golladay said. “As long as you are on the same page and you see the exact same thing that DJ sees and feels, it should turn out perfect.”
It has been far from that, though. While Jones has been able to develop a palpable passer-to-receiver relationship with the likes of Wan’Dale Robinson and Kadarius Toney in the early days of training camp, he still has yet to demonstrate an ability to meld with Golladay. In Monday’s practice, the quarterback threw a slant pass well behind his big-bodied receiver and overthrew a pass in the corner of the end zone that Golladay watched sail over his head.
They have completed passes, of course, and even found the end zone on occasion in the first five workouts, but that mythical “same page” sync they have been searching for has yet to show itself in any meaningful way. At this point, it is fair to wonder if it ever will.
“It’s different when it’s just me and DJ throwing,” Golladay said of the offseason work not translating to camp. “We’re calling the play out there in training camp practices and there is a defense in front of you. There are moving parts. It’s a little bit different.”
Brian Daboll said he has some patience for the disconnect between the two as they grope their way through these first few days . . . but not much.
“The receivers in our system, I’d say, have a lot to learn,” he said. “There are a lot of different positions to play. And I just think that early on in camp when you’re thinking a little bit, there’s a lot of things going through your head and maybe you don’t play as fast . . . That’s why we’ll give it another week or two and things will settle down a little bit.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
Golladay does have what seems to be the least complicated role among the starting wide receivers. While Toney and Robinson are shifting and lining up all over the field like scurrying mice – and doing so more and more each day, with Daboll noting that he recently approached Toney to add other wrinkles to his plays – Golladay is a tall, big-bodied receiver who is almost always stationary through the presnap maneuverings.
“I’m pretty sure the defenses in the league, they know I’m not going to get an end-around or a reverse or anything like that,” he said of his lack of motion, but that only adds to the mystery of why Golladay and Jones aren’t clicking on the basics when the extracurriculars aren’t even part of their oeuvre.
And while many players have spoken openly about how they are going to be used like receivers in Buffalo and Kansas City, where Daboll and new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka hail from, Golladay quickly shut down any idea of there being a model for him from those schemes.
“I’m just my own player,” Golladay said.Maybe to the point that the Giants’ new offense is passing him by.
As for that relationship with Jones that he tried to nourish in the offseason, Golladay said it “was growing a lot last year and it’s just continuing to grow, as it will. Throughout the years, I feel like it’s going to grow more.”
So far, though, all of the work that has gone into that critical combination has yet to show signs of manifesting in a meaningful way. At some point the Giants may have to give up on it ever doing so.
That “same page” Jones and Golladay have been searching for? If this regular season looks anything like camp, it may wind up being the one the Giants turn.