Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
August 25, 2020
Q: Joe Judge seems to put a real premium on smarts, on his staff and on his players. Can you talk about what that means to you? Also, you and Patrick (Graham) are a unique combo. You’re both Ivy Leaguers who are now coordinators. Can you talk about that dynamic and if you and Patrick ever speak about your shared Ivy League experiences?
A: I agree with Coach Judge. The best players we’ve been around, the best units and teams we’ve been around, were smart players, units and teams. You have to play smart to have success in this league, and there are a lot of different levels of smart. You have to understand what to do, you have to understand how to do it, why you do it. You want to be good situationally. You want to handle the situations well in the game and play smart in that regard. You want to play winning football. Smart football teams take care of the ball, they don’t have penalties, they understand what they need to do in given situations to have success in the situation and how that impacts the game. Those are all things you’re trying to preach to your players individually, as units and as a team really each and every day. It starts with preparation. There are different levels of book smart that players that I’ve been around throughout my career have had. But you have to dig into it, you have to know what we’re asking you to do, and then you have to be smart when you get into the different situations in the game to give yourself the best chance to win. In regards to Patrick, just a great experience for me getting to know him. Obviously, I’ve known him from afar. Different people who have been around him have great respect for him. In the time we’ve been together, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and how smart of a football guy he is, the different experiences that he’s had, and the ability to work together. When you’re a coordinator, often times you have to work together with the other coordinator to help get the practice to function the way you want it to function and how you can compete against each other. But also work together to put your units in the best situation you can. He’s been a real joy to work with right now despite the fact that he’s a Yale guy.
Q: Is there a pride there? Is there an Ivy League pride between the two of you that comes out?
A: Oh, I don’t know about that. I know we’re all grateful for the experiences we had back then. Princeton has been a big part of my life. I met my wife there, my brothers went there, my best friends in the world are from there. It’s something we just feel really fortunate about to have had that experience.
Q: I wanted to ask you about two of your tight ends. It seemed like Evan (Engram) had a big day yesterday, and everybody kind of knows what he can do in the passing game. What makes you most excited to work with him? Garrett Dickerson seems to have developed a really nice rapport both with Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy. Just your impressions of Garrett so far?
A: Let’s start with Evan. Obviously, spent a lot of time on him coming out of the draft and really liked him a lot. I admired him in that evaluation process. Then we played against him, and obviously, with the Cowboys and Giants going against each other a couple times a year, a tremendous amount of respect for him from afar. He’s one of those players you’re always concerned about having to defend in a game when you’re going against him. It’s been even better getting to know him. I heard great things about him. Talk about a guy who loves football, wants to work at it and wants to refine his craft and everything he does. He’s done an outstanding job from minute one with us. He loves it. You can see it every day. He’s engaged in meetings, he works hard at practice. There’s this idea that, hey, this is a receiving tight end, this is a play-making tight end. I don’t think there’s any question about that. But he’s also someone who’s willing to be a complete tight end and block, block in line and do the things he needs to do to be an every down player for us. He’s been fantastic. He has a great thirst for knowledge, a great thirst for trying to understand what we’re asking him to do and it shows up in his work every day. In terms of Garrett, he’s done a really good job. He has some versatility to him. He can be an on the line tight end, but he also can open up a little bit. He also can come back in the backfield. I think he’s shown that versatility. You said it, he’s made some plays. It looks like he’s comfortable out there. He’s done a lot of positive things, both in the run game and in the pass game, the past few days.
Q: I wanted to talk to you about Dion Lewis a little bit. Obviously, he has a lot of experience in pass protection. Watching him in your two-minute stuff the last couple of times you’ve run it, he seems like a nightmare for guys coming out of the backfield. I know he’s kind of made his bones there. But what do you like about what he brings to the table? How does that complement work when you’re dealing with, you have a guy like Saquon (Barkley) who’s going to get a bulk of attention? How does Dion fit into that mix?
A: The answer is probably pretty similar. I loved Dion coming out of school and admired him from afar. Getting the chance to work with him up close, he’s just a real pro. You can tell he loves the game. He works very hard at it. He respects the details of the game and what he needs to do to be a complete back. Don’t have this impression that this guy is a receiving back. He’s willing to block, demonstrates an ability to run inside and outside in this league for a long, long time. He’s a pro. He knows the answers to every question, he embraces the opportunities each day that he gets in them, and you said it. You get him in some of those two-minute situations, he’s a very clean protector, he understands who he needs to block when he’s asked to do that. But he’s also a very good route runner who can beat you when he gets out in space. Again, I admired him for a long time from afar and it’s been great to work with him.
Q: Respectfully, I know you didn’t want to answer these questions last time, but I have to ask them, obviously. Going back to Dallas and your departure there, do you think that the dragged-out nature of your departure and remaining under contract prevented you from interviewing for head coaching experiences, including this one, that you intended to?
A: Very respectfully, I’m not going to answer questions about Dallas. I’m happy to answer any questions about our Giants team right now, what we’re doing here and what we’re doing going forward.
Q: I have a Giants question then. Daniel Jones, how long do you… Do you tolerate mistakes since it’s early in camp? Whether it’s turnovers or just a mistake on a read, at what point do you get to the point where you say, ‘Daniel, this has to get better,’ ‘Daniel, you need to correct this immediately’? Or do you tolerate it because it’s a new offense and it’s early?
A: I don’t know if we ever use that word ‘tolerate’ as coaches. That’s not really in our vocabulary. You don’t really tolerate anything. We coach everything every single day with every player we have. That’s really what our job is. That’s not to say mistakes aren’t going to happen. They are going to happen. But you never use the word ‘tolerate’. You’re always trying to learn and grow from the different experiences that we have. Daniel’s done an excellent job. He comes in here and, again, he’s so prepared, he’s so into it, he wants to know every detail. To play quarterback in this league, or really play any position in this league, there are a lot of different things that happen over the course of a play or the course of a practice. There’s so much to learn from. I’ve never been around a player who played a perfect game. I’ve never been around a player who had a perfect practice. We’re always striving for that. We’re striving for excellence in everything we do, and that’s really what our objective is. We try to set high standards for our players. We try to give them the tools to achieve those standards. We try to instill belief in them, and we hold those to them each and every day. Daniel is one of those guys who’s really embraced that. He’s getting better and better in everything we do.
Q: What did you think of his scrimmage and what was it like calling plays?
A: I thought he did a good job in the scrimmage. Again, a lot to learn from. Some parts of it were better than other parts, for him and for our offense. Again, those are great learning experiences for us. Keep going about it the right way, work hard, prepare, and get ready to go. When it’s time to go play, go play. Then you come back and clean it up as you go, and hopefully you get better day after day.
Q: The Giants have not been a good screen team for years, as you probably know coaching against them. Not going to get into that. But you come from a program where you had an effective screen game. I’m curious, what are the keys to having a consistent, effective screen pass game? Do you feel this line is developing to one that can be an effective screen pass game?
A: Again, offensive football, you want to attack defenses different ways. It starts with run and pass and then the variety of runs you have and the variety you have in the passing game, whether that’s run action passes or play action passes or movement passes or the quick game or the drop back game or screens. That has to be a part of it. We feel like we’re capable of doing it. Just my own personal experience regarding the Giants’ screens, I know Saquon Barkley has been a real threat throughout his career up to this point on screens, and certainly has been against the teams that I’ve been around. We believe we can be a good screen team. But again, that’s just part of the entire offensive package you’re trying to put together to attack a defense different ways.
Q: You had the opportunity to call plays, albeit for a very short period of time, the other day. But I’m just curious how different is the Jason Garrett that calls plays now compared to the last time you called plays? It’s been a few years, and obviously, you’ve morphed with the times as well. Your offense changed even though you weren’t calling the plays in Dallas.
A: Yeah, I think the DNA that I have as a person and as a coach, I don’t know if that’s changed. But certainly, you want to evolve and grow in every aspect of your life and certainly as a coach. Hopefully I’ve done that with the different experiences I’ve had. Hopefully I’ve learned from them. You try to build on the good ones and learn from the ones that aren’t quite as good. I think that applies to all aspects of coaching, and certainly to calling plays. One of the things that we tried to do in Dallas with our offense through the years was, it was the same offensive system, but it played differently based on the people that we had. There were some years that we really emphasized the running game and we had success with that. Other years, we had a different personnel makeup and we threw the ball a little bit more. That’s a big part of this when you’re putting the offense together, to have a system that’s flexible enough that you can use the personnel the way you want to and evolve from year to year, evolve within a year based on the personnel you have available, and you’re highlighting the strengths of the players and, hopefully, you’re protecting some of the weaknesses. That’s the process that we’re going through right now. Learning our team to get this offense to play as well as it can play.
Q: What does Jason Garrett the play-caller then think of having Saquon Barkley as a guy to build those play calls around?
A: Yeah, great respect for Saquon. Again, one of those guys that we evaluated in the draft. He was a hell of a player at Penn State. Then we had to go against him the last couple of years. He’s just a real pro. He comes to work every day always trying to get better, always wanting to learn. You add that with the ability that he has, he can be a dynamic player for us. Certainly, he’ll be a big part of what we’re doing going forward.