Daniel Jones was the reason the Giants brought Jason Garrett back for another season as their offensive coordinator. They knew they needed to find out if he could be their franchise quarterback. They couldn’t do that if he was being forced to learn a third offense in three years.
So they overlooked the flaws in Garrett’s scheme and opted for consistency. They truly believed that with a healthy Saquon Barkley back and the addition of receiver Kenny Golladay that Garrett’s offense would look a whole lot better. But mostly, they believed keeping Garrett around was the best thing for Jones.
So far, it looks like they might be right about that.
And that’s a big reason why, as unpopular as he is among an increasingly angry fanbase, Garrett isn’t in danger of losing his job anytime soon, as Giants coach Joe Judge made pretty clear on Monday afternoon. Jones is playing better. His first three games have been the finest three-game stretch of his career. He hasn’t thrown a single interception. It’s his first three-game stretch with a passer rating over 90 in every game.
So why would they want to disrupt that now?
“We’re going to stay consistent with what we’re doing and keep improving as a team,” Judge said when asked about Garrett. “There’s a lot of things we’ve got to clean up coaching-wise, execution-wise. We’re going to stay on track with it and make sure we get those things right before we make any radical changes.”
Now, Garrett isn’t exactly safe. Everyone’s on the hot seat at 0-3 and with co-owner John Mara fuming. At some point, Mara might demand a sacrificial lamb to try to spark this sagging team. It wouldn’t even be a hard sell to Judge, since this has always felt like a bit of an arranged marriage. Mara wanted Garrett as the Giants offensive coordinator even before he hired Judge as the head coach.
But what good would a change do now? The offense wasn’t the problem in their heart-breaking loss in Washington in Week 2. It wasn’t even the biggest problem on Sunday in their loss to the Falcons. Firing Garrett won’t make the drive-crushing penalties stop. It won’t make Evan Engram’s hands more reliable. It won’t stop the defense from collapsing late in the game. It won’t make Saquon Barkley look like he did as a rookie. And it won’t suddenly bring Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton back.
The Giants, like it or not, have way bigger problems than Garrett. Firing him this early in the season won’t fix any of those.
Besides, not that anyone cares with the team heading towards oblivion, but the offense has actually improved -- although clearly the bar to clear was low. A year ago, with all their problems, they ranked 31st in the NFL, averaging an anemic 17.5 points and less than 300 yards per game (299.6). Now they’re averaging 350 yards per game, although the points are still lagging at an average of 18.6. They even rank 18th, right in the middle of the league.
Is it good enough? Far from it. And if it’s not any better by the end of the season the Giants should shake things up and find some kind of offensive whiz to make the most of their weapons and teach their players where the end zone is. But now? The best they can do at the moment is promote someone from within -- most likely senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens. But he’d just be calling plays from Garrett’s playbook. And how much different is that going to be when he’s part of the offensive game-planning already?
Fans still want blood, though. And Garrett is the latest to have a large target painted on his back by an unruly fanbase, coming in third in their race for a scapegoat behind GM Dave Gettleman and Mara. There’s a groundswell of fans screaming for his head, tired of looking at the Giants’ anemic offense and a scoreboard with hardly any points.
That’s understandable. It’s been a miserable 19-game stretch watching the Giants’ offense slog along while everyone else scores in bunches. And that’s just part of their frustrations built up from the worst decade of Giants football since the 1970s.
But they’re just not going to get what they want -- at least not yet. Mara’s not going to sell the team. He’s not likely to fire his GM three games into the season. And Judge isn’t going to fire an offensive coordinator just for the sake of making a change.
He wouldn’t be afraid to do it. Everyone saw that when he booted Marc Colombo last November. But firing a position coach is less messy than firing a coordinator. It also can have a bigger impact on a smaller level, too. Firing a coordinator in-season is largely cosmetic.
After the season? Sure. And maybe they’ll have to. It’s hard to defend Garrett based on the results, even if it is hard to envision anyone doing much better with the awful hand he’s been played. If he can’t get things moving with an improved Jones, a healthy Barkley and so many new weapons, big changes might be necessary for the future of Jones and this team.
But now? Unless Mara demands something, and unless Judge really thinks he has a better option that won’t mess with his growing young quarterback, it doesn’t look like a “radical change” like that is on the agenda.
That won’t be a popular answer. At the moment, though, it’s probably the best answer they’ve got.