Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
September 10, 2020
Q: I’m just curious how refreshing it is for you to get back to coaching at more of the ground level instead of the macro level? It’s been a while since you’ve actually called plays in a game.
A: I’ve been really fortunate in my player and coaching career to really enjoy every role that I’ve been in, whether it’s been a backup player, a number three guy, a backup quarterback, I started games, position coach, coordinator or head coach. There really has never been any role that I’ve had that I haven’t really tried to embrace and try to grow and develop in. That’s really my mentality now as the offensive coordinator. Obviously, a lot of responsibility, big picture responsibility, on the offensive side of the ball. But also some hands-on coaching opportunities. When you’re a head coach, you try to do those same things. Obviously, you’re involved with the comings and goings and the functioning of the entire football team. But even when you’re in that role, I always felt it was important to get involved and coaching guys individually, technically and fundamentally, and certainly getting involved with conversations with the coordinators talking about schemes. Every person on a team has a different role. My experiences have been dive in and embrace what your role is and do it to the best of your ability.
Q: Can you tell me when the last time was you called a game?
A: I think it was 2012 the last time I called. We had a couple of different coordinators, play-callers, since then. Scott Linehan and Kellen Moore, guys who came in and did it for us. But again, as a head coach, you want to be involved in all aspects of your team on all three sides of the ball, if you will. Certainly, I was still involved with the offensive side of the ball even as Scott and Kellen were calling the games.
Q: When you go into a situation like this where you have a center who has never played a game before at that position, hasn’t had any preseason games, do you have to do things to help him out? Maybe give the guard some of the checks at the line. Is there anything you can do for a guy like Nick Gates to help him because this is a new position for him?
A: Nick’s done a great job, as has Spencer Pulley. Those guys have been the ones working at the center position for us this week. That competition throughout training camp has been good for us and those guys have embraced their reps and their opportunities playing in there. We’ll get those guys ready, and really everybody across the board, that’s what you’re trying to do all week long. Get them ready to play and function as well as they can regardless of their experience level. That not only applies to the offensive line but everybody throughout our team. Obviously, it’s a new system for us. We’re trying to get everybody on the same page, trying to maximize our opportunities to work together. That applies for everybody throughout the offense.
Q: Hypothetically, if you had to go with a new center, can you help a new center in some ways on the sideline?
A: Yeah, I think that’s what you’re trying to do with all of your players. As you go during the week in terms of your preparation and then certainly for the three hours on game day, you want to make sure you’re communicating with them and getting them into the best situations, whether it’s responding to something that happened or something that’s going to happen in a ball game. You try to prepare the best you can and then get ready to adjust. Communication is a big part of it. In relation to the offensive center position, obviously, that’s a leadership position on the offensive line. Those guys have to be great communicators and do a great job identifying the front, potentially the linebacker, a MIKE ID, if you will. Those guys working together up front, working with the quarterback, that’s a big part of playing offensive football at a high level.
Q: Do you think you have enough weapons, enough components, in this offense going into this season?
A: Oh, we’re excited about this group. Obviously, it’s been a very different and challenging offseason for everybody in pro football. But our guys have embraced every experience we’ve had, starting back in the spring with our Zoom meetings, and then once we got together in training camp. I’m excited about the group that we have. It’s a mix and a blend of some guys who have some experience and then we have some young guys. The common theme is that everyone is new together. It’s a new system, but guys have worked hard to learn it, to understand it, understand the x’s and o’s but beyond that, the nuances. Really, the way you grow as a player, as a unit and as a team is just having experience together. Again, without preseason games, that becomes a challenging situation. But we did have scrimmages. We did have training camp practices. Their approach from day one has been outstanding. Excited to work with this group, excited to see them play, really proud of how they’ve worked up to this point.
Q: Earlier, Patrick Graham said that everything that he calls on defense is a reflection of the vision of Joe Judge. I was wondering if you kind of feel the same way as the offensive coordinator, that you’re enacting his vision? How do you envision that dynamic kind of playing out on Monday night for the first time?
A: I think that’s a great way to say it. We have a vision for our program here with the Giants. You have a vision for your football team, the kind of guys you want to have on your team, what the team is made up of. Then you have a vision for how you’re going to win games and what that looks like on offense, defense and the kicking game. Then how those complement each other and how you play complementary football each week to try to win a ball game. You have a vision for how you want to play that game. You have to be able to adjust as the game goes on. I think a lot of this comes back to just the core values that you have as coaches, and making sure those values are aligned in terms of how we’re building our program, how we’re building our team, the kind of guys we want on our team and how that reflects schematically. That stuff started with the interview process back before we all got hired, and what we believe in and what we value. Then it starts to get enacted when you get together. That’s been the process we’ve gone through since all the way back in February. That continues, and continues in different environments. Again, whether it’s over Zoom, whether it’s a training camp practice or a scrimmage and now into the season.
Q: Kind of piggybacking on what was just asked, you have now spent a whole summer with Joe Judge. Has there been anything that’s surprised you about him moving up to this new role as a head coach for the first time? You’ve been a head coach in this league for a long time yourself. Is there any advice you can maybe give him going into his first game in his first year?
A: It’s just been a great experience for me to work for Joe. Great respect for him from afar. A lot of people that I know who have been around him just said such great things about him. That was a big draw for me coming to New York and taking the position that I have. It’s been great to get to know him. Again, going back to the vision of the program, vision for the football team, just understanding what that is, having conversations with him about that and what we value together as a coaching staff and as a football team, it was really important. He’s done a great job outlining that for all of us and getting everybody on the same page. Alignment within an organization is critical. Everybody on the same page from ownership all the way through the organization, personnel people, coaching staff, players, staff people, getting everybody on the same page. That’s such a big piece in having success. We’ve talked a lot about that. I’ve learned a lot from Joe about that. We tried to craft that to help build our program and our football team. In terms of advice, I have no advice to give. It’s just been fun working for him and trying to understand how we want to build this team, and then doing it together. I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it.
Q: When you were a backup quarterback, the preseason games, those were your times to shine. For a lot of the guys, that’s really the only time they get to work on the field. How do you get Colt McCoy ready just in case now, and how did you do it throughout training camp?
A: Again, it’s the situation that we’re all in. Everybody across the world, whatever your field or endeavor is, these are different and challenging times. Something we’ve talked about right from the start is a lot of people talk about you have to somehow find a way to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Our experience is the people who are best at what they do, they thrive when they’re uncomfortable, and that’s what we’ve tried to do. These are uncomfortable and challenging situations, but in every situation, every turn, we’ve tried to maximize our opportunity and thrive and be our best. That’s how it applies to a backup player like Colt. Sure, we’d rather have preseason games. We’d rather have reps. But this is the situation that we’re in. We can’t lament otherwise. We just have to go to work and take advantage of it. Talk about a guy who’s a pro, a guy who comes in and is prepared, is ready to go, is an experienced player, but he has a young mind. He wants to learn and understand what we’re asking him to do, and he’s really done an outstanding job. Maximize the opportunities you do have. He’s certainly done that, Cooper Rush has done that, and hopefully those guys will be ready if called upon.