Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
September 9, 2021
Q: Before we get into football, you were here 20 years ago. I’m just curious what your recollections are from that week and at that time?
A: Obviously, it's a tragic time in our country's history and just having been here, the memories are really vivid for me. I can remember so many specific details of the day and certainly the week and the time to follow. It just was a really, really sad time. One of the great takeaways – I actually was talking to (Former Giants Quarterback) Kerry Collins about this the other night, it was just amazing how this area and our country, in many ways our world, came together after 9/11. I can remember we were living in the city at the time, and I can remember we were going to go donate blood, and literally they said, ‘We've had so many people want to donate blood, we do not need any more blood.’ To us, that was always like this amazing thing, how everybody rallied around the cause after such a tragedy. It was such a sad, emotional time. In many ways, I think we felt fortunate as members of this team to be able to try to help the community in some ways. We spent a lot of time at firehouses and visiting police departments and some of the people who lost their dads or their moms. At least you felt like you were trying to do something, and I thought (Vice President of Community & Corporate Relations) Allison Stangeby and everybody here at the Giants did an amazing job connecting us with the community in that regard. I'll never forget the picture we took after the Kansas City game. I'm sure you guys have seen it. (Former Giants Head) Coach (Jim) Fassel – it was an emotional time, and it was an important game for us and somehow, some way we found a way to beat the Chiefs that day. I remember after the game he just brought everybody in and said, ‘Just kind of get in the locker room,’ and we all kind of just got in this picture and they snapped this picture. We felt a real burden and a responsibility to have success for this area and for the people who were going through such challenging times and I thought that moment captured it where we all kind of came together. It's still one of my favorite pictures I've ever had in football. I have it in my office. I have it at my house. So many distinct memories of that time. Twenty years later, I mean, they're vivid. They're vivid and you can still feel them. Obviously, a very tragic time in our country's history.
Q: You just mentioned Coach Fassel, does this have new meaning 20 years later? Have you been thinking about him more now?
A: Yeah, I just thought he did an amazing job. We had a chance to go to the dinner after the golf tournament they had for him last week and there were a lot of policemen there, firemen there, guys who were around at 9/11 who we stayed in touch with, and a big part of the tribute to him was around his leadership in response to that tragedy. So, I thought he handled it beautifully and it was great to see his leadership as a player help this organization and help this community.
Q: That's not in the coaching manual is it?
A: Oh, I don't think it's in anybody's manual. If we all think about that time, I mean, I think everybody – whether it's President Bush or the leaders in our country, the community leaders, just citizens – how do you respond to that? One of the things when you reflect back on that time, what was amazing is I think we were at our best in our response and how everyone came together. It wasn't about being liberal or conservative, it was about being an American and it was about being a human being. I thought we did a great job in this area and all across our country rallying around the cause.
Q: You mentioned the Chiefs game, the fans passed around firefighters’ boots, were you aware of that? (It was) for donations in the stands and they would put money in the boots.
A: I don't know that I was aware of that specifically, but my great takeaway from that experience was Kansas City is a hard place to play, right? For years you go there and it's like, ‘wow, this is a challenging environment.’ I remember going out before the game to warm up and the fans were so warm and welcoming. Again, it was such an emotional time. I can remember them playing a lot of Bob Dylan before the game and it just seemed like a surreal experience. But the great takeaway was this fanbase in Kansas City that was always so behind their team was certainly behind the Chiefs, but you also felt their support for our team and for people in our area and that was a great takeaway. I think you reflect back on just the national anthem, and I can remember guys were just crying. It was just such an emotional thing and then you had to kind of get your energy right, take a deep breath and go play a football game. Personally, for me, I held in that game for the first time, and I can remember the pressure of that. Needing a field goal late in the game and Morten Andersen was our kicker and just making sure, hey, catch it and get it down. This is damn important. Good thing it all worked out. I thought our organization and our team did a great job responding to that time.
Q: I guess I’ll ask a football question now. How has (Tackle) Andrew Thomas developed in terms of responding after maybe he gives up a sack or whatever? How is he in terms of bouncing back?
A: Yeah, I think Andrew's done a really good job in his progression as a player. Obviously, it's a really challenging position to play in the NFL, left tackle, and you go against the best rushers every week. If you reflect back on the early part of the season last year with no preseason games and kind of a crazy training camp, he's going against the (Former Steelers Outside Linebacker) Bud Duprees and the (Steelers Outside Linebacker) T.J. Watts, (Bears Outside Linebacker) Khalil Mack and (Bears Outside Linebacker) Robert Quinn and all those guys early on and it was like, ‘wow, what is this?’ But I thought he settled in. Mid-year, he started to settle in, and I thought he regained his confidence and started playing better and better. He's continued to do that here in training camp and through the preseason. You said it, it's the most important part of any position in football, particularly that one – those guys are really good. They're going to have success. How do you respond to the adversity that you have? You’ve got to come back, and I think he's doing that better and better.
Q: We've seen you really since the start of training camp spend time with (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) having your friendly competitions – I guess I put friendly in quotes. In terms of how you guys are going back and forth, how have those moments that you've gotten to spend with Daniel away from the grind of the X’s and O’s improved your relationship with him? How much more have you learned about him from doing that kind of stuff?
A: Oh, I think you're always trying to do that when you're a coach. You're trying to build relationships with your players. Certainly, you build them in the meeting rooms, but outside the meeting rooms with all your guys, you're trying to develop those relationships because what I would argue is that that's what allows you to coach them hard and coach them to a high standard, them knowing that you care about them and you want what's good for them individually and what's good for us as a team. So, I think Daniel understands that. For me, we've had a really good relationship right from the start. We do like spending extra time having our competitions afterwards – accuracy competitions and ballistics throwing competitions and just how you can perform in nut-cutting time competitions. So, it's something we've done with quarterbacks for a long time. I'm on a little bit of a streak here the last few days, so we'll see how it goes.
Q: I’m not sure Giants fans are going to be happy to hear you’re beating him out there.
A: No, he could destroy me.
A: What have you learned about (Running Back) Devontae Booker and how ready is he to play a role on Sunday?
A: Yeah, Devontae has done a really good job for us. We liked him a lot in the free agency process. I really liked him coming out of school. I think he's demonstrated that he can be a complete back in the NFL when he’s given opportunities. I think he's picked up our system well. He can certainly run the ball inside and outside. He can pass protect. He can run routes. He can really do anything we ask him to do. So, he’s off to a good start and he'll get opportunities as the season goes on.
Q: How much different is your offense, what you call, what you do, when you have (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) in the lineup compared to maybe when you don’t like last year?
A: Oh, I think we have a lot of confidence in the guys we have, and we have a lot of confidence in Book (Devontae Booker). Obviously, Saquon’s a special player and he’ll certainly get his opportunities. He too can really do anything we ask him to do. But as a coach, you're constantly trying to put your guys in favorable situations with things they can do, and we feel confident about any guy that we put in there.
Q: What does it add to have Saquon back?
A: Oh, trust me, I was on the other side with this guy and he's one of those dynamic players, both in the running game and in the passing game. He's one of those players who can make a three-yard run and a four-yard run and a two-yard and a one-yard run, and then he catches a screen and goes for 65 yards. We've lived that trying to stop him, so it's great to have him on our side and, again, we'll try to give him opportunities. He's worked really, really hard to get back, to come back from a serious injury. He's done a great job and demonstrated great leadership about how you respond to adversity.
Q: Do you see that same Saquon though? I mean, do you see that same guy that you said before?
A: Yeah, a lot of confidence in him as a player and I think he's done a great job to get himself back healthy and 100 percent.
Q: (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham was saying earlier because it's his second year here he has a lot more scheme that he can put out there to his players. This is your second year here, do you say the same thing because it’s the second year with a lot of these guys that there's a lot more scheme you have right now?
A: I think there's a comfort level the guys have who have been here that you can do a lot of the stuff that we've done, but also build on it. I think that’s just a natural progression anytime you're putting a system of football in.
Q: As a quarterback and a coach, you’ve seen the Broncos revamp the secondary. Are you preparing for the players they brought in, the system they use, or what?
A: Yeah, I think it's always a combination of that. They have a system they believe in. (Broncos Head Coach) Vic Fangio’s been a great, great defensive coordinator in the National Football League for a long time. He and (Broncos Defensive Coordinator) Ed Donatell work really well together. They have a system that they used in a lot of different places. So, I think it starts with that, but then the most important stuff is who's implementing that system. They've done a really good job building that defense. They're really good on the front. They're really good at the linebacker level. They're really good on the back end. So, we have challenges all over the place on Sunday.
Q: With (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney), do you have like specific plays that are just designated for him because he's kind of got a unique skillset?
A: There's certainly things you want him to be able to do and Kadarius missed a lot of time in training camp, so you want to be specific and purposeful with what you ask him to do. But that's really the same for any of the guys that we have.
Q: We saw you work a lot in the summer on red zone. How different are you going to be this year with the different personnel and the people that you've added in that area?
A: Again, I think you always just go back to: this is what we have. We feel really good about the players we have all across our offense and you're trying to utilize them to the best of their ability, so you want to put them in situations where they can have success. We feel good about the variety of things that each of those guys can do. It's not like, hey, he can't do that, he can't do that. The biggest thing is time on task, getting to a point where he can take the work that we do out here and be able to execute on Sunday. We're always trying to evaluate that as coaches and make the right decisions.
Q: On the offensive line, how much harder does it make it for a unit to gain consistency if you’re rotating players in and out versus if you have the same five guys?
A: Well, I think like with any position you want to make sure guys get reps and there's time on task. Obviously, when you're talking about the offensive line, there's a lot of communication between those guys and among that group. So, I think you have to be mindful of that, but at the same time, guys have to be versatile. It's something where guys need to play the interior spots. Tackles need to be able to flip side to side. You want them in their spots, but versatility is a big part of that unit. Over the course of the year, they're going to have to play different spots. Ideally, you want those guys locked in, but again, flexibility and versatility is a big part of that position.
Q: I meant more like in the game the way you guys did last year. Like one drive until the next drive, you switch the left guard and the right tackle. Is it difficult in-game for those guys to maintain consistency?
A: Well again, you just have to handle that situation if it comes up and obviously there's reasons to do that. You want to give guys opportunities to play and grow, so, we'll see. We'll take that situation and how we play those guys really, a day and a week at a time.