Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
September 24, 2020
Q: When you lose a back like Saquon who is so multifaceted, how do you scheme around that when your offensive line is struggling? How does Devonta Freeman fit into what you guys need to do?
A: I just think you go back to work with the guys that you have. We have a lot of confidence in the backs that we have here with Dion and Wayne and those guys will certainly get opportunities. For us to be able to sign a guy like Devonta Freeman is a real bonus for us. He came in and had a good workout the other day and practiced well yesterday. We want to see how he handles the work as the week goes on. He’s obviously been a really good football player in this league for a while. He’s a smart guy, he’s a football guy, he’s instinctive. We’ll try to get him up to speed as quickly as we can and just keep going back to work,
Q: You’re coming from a place where you had Zeke and now you had Saquon at least for two weeks and building a game plan around him. What are some of the advantages to having that committee approach that maybe people on the outside don’t understand?
A: I just think the biggest thing you try to focus on as a coach is who do we have and how do we best utilize these guys individually to take advantage of their talents. Also, how do we utilize them so we can be the best offense we can be. If you have a guy like Saquon Barkley, a lot of the offense is going to go through him. He’s going to get the ball a lot, he is a really good player. When I was in Dallas, we had to defend him a lot. The focal point of our defense was number 26. When you have different guys in the roles, maybe the focal point is not quite as narrow on that particular player. Maybe that works to your advantage a little bit. Make no mistake about it, Saquon’s a great football player and he’ll be missed. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in the guys we’re putting out there.
Q: One of the things Joe said about the 49ers yesterday was that they don’t give up a lot of explosive plays. You’re an offense now that is missing two of your homerun hitters, so to speak, with Sterling and Saquon. Do you need to find those long explosive plays or can you get by on taking baby steps down the field and piecing together long drives?
A: They’re an excellent defense for a lot of different reasons. They’re really stout up front, they’re disruptive in the running game and obviously can get after the quarterback. Their backers run well and their secondary is awfully good. It all fits together. They believe in their scheme and they play it really well. Another part of playing that is they don’t give you a whole lot of stuff. They certainly don’t give you a lot of big plays. Against a defense like this, you certainly look for ways to make big plays. The correlation between making explosive plays in a drive and scoring is pretty high in this league. When you don’t make them, it’s much more difficult. I think we’ve done a pretty good job over the first couple of weeks of having some long drives. You have to mix in some explosive plays within those drives. That’s how you score points in this league. We’re always finding ways to do that. This week could be another challenge against an excellent defense.
Q: The last drive against the Bears, Daniel threw the ball in the endzone on that last play and even then, I think Golden was at the goal line. Were you comfortable with the way he managed it? Do you or him need to take another shot at the endzone there?
A: I thought he handled it really well. You want to get yourself to a point where you can take a makeable shot to the endzone. We had an opportunity. I think we were out there in the low teens, to get us a little closer so the last play could be a legitimate shot. It really was a legitimate shot. They had a three-man rush and Daniel broke the pocket. If you look at the history of the NFL, a lot of touchdowns are scored on that kind of a play, where the team is playing zone and because the play gets extended, the zone breaks down a little bit. The quarterback is able to make a play and the receiver on the other end is able to find a hole. That’s a little bit of the design of the play and we had a pretty good opportunity at it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
Q: Coming out of training camp, there were really high hopes for Evan Engram. In the first six, seven quarters, he was pretty invisible. The fourth quarter on Sunday was like what we were expecting. What changed?
A: You just have to keep banging away, you really do. There were some plays in the first game and the early part of the second game that certainly Evan would like to have back. You keep playing, you keep banging and he’s done a really good job working hard in practice. He’s playing hard. He had some opportunities as that game wore on and he took advantage of them. He won some one on one matchups, he made some runs after the catch that were impressive for us. Big, explosive plays like we’re talking about. He’s certainly going to be a big part of our offense going forward. Just love his approach, love everything about it. He’ll get better and better and better the more he plays.
Q: We saw a lot of zone read, RPO’s in camp with Jones. You seemed to have gotten away the first few games from it. Is there a reason for that or is it something you are going to look for down the road? Can you explain that?
A: I think typically there is a lot of stuff that you put in over the course of training camp that you like. Maybe you don’t like certain things each week. Obviously, we game plan for opponents. We try to go into the plays that we have both in the run game and in the pass game that we think are appropriate to attack a particular defense. We have a long way to go offensively, we all know that. We have to get better running it, get better throwing it. Some of those “deceptives” that you are referring to, when they fit into the plan, we’ll certainly use them going forward.
Q: You spoke about the importance of those explosive plays which correlate directly to points scored in this league. Can you be the offense you want right now without getting those plays from Evan? No Saquon, no Sterling Shepard. How important is he to this offense at this point?
A: It was better the second week than it was the first week. Obviously, we played against two good defenses that challenge you, Pittsburgh and Chicago, among the better defenses in the league. I do think we did a better job making some of those explosive plays in that second game against Chicago. The run action stuff was really good for us that we used on early downs. You saw Daniel making some plays in the middle of the field, whether it was to Darius or to Golden or some other guys. Evan made a really nice play with the run after the catch and explosive plays. Again, those are a big part of scoring in this league. The best offenses I’ve been around have different guys who are capable of doing that. We feel like we have guys who can do that, and we just have to keep banging away. Making big plays has a lot to do with trying to put your players in the right position and simply executing. I think we’ve had some opportunities that we’ve taken advantage of. We’ll keep trying to get those opportunities for our guys.
Q: Being the lowest scoring offense in the league through two weeks, is it not fair to judge that yet because there was no preseason? So, are we really looking at a preseason development of an offense so to speak? Do you have to press the urgency button right now?
A: There is always a sense of urgency obviously. What you’re trying to do with each phase of your team is you’re trying to put yourself in the position to win a game. Some games are going to be more lower scoring games because of the team you’re playing or the style you want to play. Other games, you might want to open it up a little bit more. Obviously, we need to score more points. We need to be more productive of an offense. Moving the ball on a more consistent basis, scoring points on a more consistent basis and that’s what we’re trying to do. You go about it each and every day, you come to work, and you just try to improve. You try to improve day by day, week by week. We’re certainly trying to do that with all aspects of our offense.
Q: I don’t have to tell you, coaches obviously have to deal with injuries and adjustments every week, maybe every day in some cases. In the case of someone like Saquon who was such a big part of your running game and passing game, I’m sure when you installed your whole offense, Saquon was one every page. Is there a point where you have to sit down with Joe Judge or your offensive staff and kind of regroup at some point after this ACL and say we have to change a lot here? We have to figure this out and then just go ahead and do it.
A: I think you’re always trying to do that. You have an offensive system that’s flexible enough to adapt to different situations that you have. If you have a player you want to feature either in the running game or the passing game, you have to be to able to do that seamlessly within your system. We believe we have a system that allows us to do that. In Week 1, we didn’t have Golden, so we used more three tight end type sets to try to take advantage of some looks in Pittsburgh. Last week, you try to do some different things against Chicago with the guys you have available to you. You’re always doing that, you’re always evaluating who you have, who you’re going against and what you want to do. Hopefully your system is flexible enough to do that. Obviously, Saquon is a great, great football player and really impactful player both in the run game and the passing game throughout his career. He was going to be a big part of what we wanted to do this year. Now we have to adjust. Again, we feel confident in the guys we have behind him in Dion and Wayne and now Devonta. Give those guys opportunities both in the run game and the pass game from that running back position. Also get some other guys involved in the passing game to help us try to move the ball and score some points. Pittsburgh was a really good defense. Chicago, really good defense. San Francisco, really good defense. We’re going to play really good defenses all year long. We have kind of keep figuring it out, keep growing day by day and week by week.