Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
October 8, 2020
Q: Obviously, the offense has started very slowly here. I’m wondering what do you think about the idea that people say your offense is vanilla through the first four weeks of the season?
A: I think the biggest thing we’re all trying to do is just simply execute better, both in the run game and the pass game. You certainly want to do the things you’re good at, and we’re trying to discover what those things are, again both in the run and the pass game. You want to make sure that you’re finding ways to keep the defense off balance, whether it’s using tempo, which we’ve used a lot of this year, whether it’s using formations and movements, or just the combination of run and pass and different ways to do that. We’re all trying as a coaching staff to do a great job of putting our players in a good position. Then we have to execute once the ball turns over.
Q: How much of it also has to do with the fact that you didn’t have the usual offseason in regard to what you’re able to do?
A: I think everybody is in the same boat regarding that. Our team did a great job through the offseason over Zoom trying to learn and understand what we’re going to try to do offensively. Then our players worked very hard throughout training camp, the same thing. Then obviously, the more we do it together, I think the better we’ll get at it. There was some progress in the game the other day. It’s really the first time we ran the ball relatively consistently throughout the year. That certainly helped us gain the balance that we want. I think it helped the passing game and the protection as that game wore on. We’re certainly striving for that, and guys are working hard every day to achieve it.
Q: What are your emotions this week going back to face the Dallas Cowboys? How awkward was it at the end not officially being let go when they were bringing in a new coach?
A: The biggest thing that we’re all focused on is what we can do to help the New York Giants play as well as we can play. That’s what we’re focused on as players and coaches. Many people around the league, you have history in another place. You know people on other teams. I obviously spent a lot of time in Dallas and am very grateful for my experience there, all the players I was fortunate to coach, the guys I was fortunate to coach with, and everyone in that organization and really the people of Dallas. They were amazing to me. It was a great time of my life. Forever appreciative of that and forever grateful of that, but I’m excited about this opportunity and trying to help this team get better.
Q: During your coaching career, I assume you’ve made trips to cities across the country. When you go to those cities, do you normally go out on a Saturday night and have a dinner with somebody, and has that changed with COVID-19?
A: On all the teams I played on or coached with, we always were in the hotel on Saturday night. I’m sure some coaches when you were done with your meetings would go out before curfew, but I always was a guy that just kind of stayed at the hotel and went back up to that room. That’s never really been a part of my routine, so nothing’s really changed for me.
Q: Years ago, the common wisdom was that it took a quarterback several years before he really kind of showed what he could do and what he was. The last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks kind of develop really quickly and almost show it immediately. Do you think that the timeline for development of young quarterbacks is now quicker than it used to be?
A: Oh, I think it’s a long discussion. I think the way the salary cap is and the way rosters are structured, a lot of young players are making teams now, and maybe they wouldn’t have before. A lot of young players at all positions are playing earlier than they would have before. It’s just the nature of how the salary cap works and how rosters are structured, and that’s probably been in place for at least the last 10 years, and maybe longer than that. In regards to the quarterback position, that’s been a great debate through the years. I don’t think there’s any question that the more recent trend is that if you draft a guy high, you typically want to play him early. What I would say going back really throughout at least the recent history in the NFL, typically, quarterbacks play best when they’re in a really good environment. That’s younger quarterbacks and that’s older quarterbacks. What everyone’s trying to do in an organization is create a good environment for their quarterback and give them a good supporting cast. Typically, it’s a strong offensive line, it’s playmakers outside, it’s a good run game. I think those things help that quarterback transition more smoothly. If he’s in a situation where he’s carrying too much of a burden early on because the team is young and in their rebuilding stage, sometimes it’s a little bit harder for that guy to transition. I think that’s probably a common denominator for a lot of guys. Sometimes quarterbacks have to take their lumps because they’re really in the ground floor of the rebuilding process. The best ones I’ve been around have come out the other end of those experiences. Sometimes the transition happens smoother because the team is further along in their cycle of rebuilding, and that quarterback comes into that environment and is that much better.
Q: You guys are in last place in terms of percentage of throws that are more than 20 yards down the field. I’m just curious how you would explain it is that way, and is that something you think needs to go up in the future? That you guys maybe take more shots down the field with Daniel?
A: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any question you want to make explosive plays. That’s a big part of playing offensive football and scoring points. I think if you look at the statistics on drives when you make an explosive play versus not making an explosive play, the spread is almost 50 percent different. That’s an important thing. It’s something we try to emphasize. Obviously, being able to run the football, being able to control the line of scrimmage, being able to pass protect the way you need to, impacts your ability to throw the ball vertically down the field. If you take those shots and you’re not able to hold it and protect it the way you need to, a lot of bad things happen and you find yourself digging out of those drives. You have to be selective, again, when you’re kind of rebuilding with a team to find those spots. But there’s no question they’re important in drives, they’re important in drives if you want to score points.
Q: I know you obviously have your sights set on doing your number one job this week, but I think there are probably some people in that building, Patrick Graham and Logan Ryan talked about how they want to pick your brain about the personnel that you spent a lot of time with over on the other side of the ball. I’m just curious, how do you handle the familiarity going into this week? Obviously, you have a lot of people in Dallas who are familiar with what you want to do. But also, you guys have familiarity in a lot of players on both sides of the ball in Dallas. Do you allow for your guys on staff to kind of pick the brain a little bit as to what they may be facing this weekend?
A: I think that’s part of the process every week in the NFL. You’re always trying to understand who you’re playing against. So much of that comes from your film study and watching your guys play on tape, but a lot of it comes from your memory of a player coming out in the draft and how you got to know him, or maybe you were around that player or somebody else from the staff or the team was. I don’t think you want to get overly focused on those things. But if there’s a resource in the building, you certainly want to take advantage of it. I think my experience has been most players and coaches through the years have been generous with that knowledge. I don’t think it should be overused. I think the process we go through each week in trying to understand who the opponent is and what we want to do is the best process. But any time you have a resource that you can use in the building, I think it would be helpful for everybody.
Q: What was it that got the running game going a little bit last week? Where is Devonta Freeman? Is he completely caught up in what you need from him?
A: The running game, again, it was really the first time we were able to consistently run the football in a game. That obviously makes everything else be much better. You continue to persist with it regardless, but you’re more likely to keep running the ball when you keep having success. We were able to do that. I think using some tempo helped us. I think we were controlling the line of scrimmage as well as we have in the running game all year long. A lot of positive runs. I thought the guys did a good job upfront blocking, not just the down guys but the tight ends. The receivers got involved and the runners ran the ball well, and we ran it different ways. That certainly helped us as the game wore on. Again, it helped our protection, the run action stuff. We were able to make some plays in the passing game as a result of that. We have to continue to work hard on it in practice and carry that to the ball game. In regards to Devonta, he’s done an excellent job since he’s been here. He’s been a very good player in this league for a number of years, and you can see why. He’s a real professional in his approach, he loves ball, he works very hard to get himself physically, mentally and emotionally ready to play. He does that every day. He’s chomping at the bit for more opportunities. He’s done a good job taking advantage of them.
Q: Two-part question. Where do you see the biggest schematic change on the Cowboys’ defense from last year to this year? And what’s the top lesson you learned as coach here in Dallas that you’ve taken to the Giants?
A: In regards to the defense, it’s really a completely different style of defense from when we were there the last number of years. Mike Nolan is the defensive coordinator now, so his whole scheme is different than what we played. Obviously, there are some familiar names. They have really good pass rushers up front, they have linebackers who can run and guys on the backend who are good cover guys. I’m familiar with a lot of the names, but the scheme is really very different. In regards to learning from my experiences in Dallas, I think the biggest thing I learned a long time ago is you have to learn from all of your experiences. I was fortunate to play in the league for a number of years, and I tried to learn from every experience I had there, whether it was from a situation or from other players or from coaches. I tried to do the same thing as an assistant coach and as a head coach when I was in Dallas. I was fortunate to be around a lot of really good players. I’m proud of the team we built down there, proud of the coaches we had and really learned from them each and every day. You try to take all of those experiences and grow as a person, grow as a coach, and try to use them as you go forward.