EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – It became apparent after Monday night 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this New York Giants Coach Joe Judge couldn’t take it anymore. He was tired of the outdated offense of coordinator Jason Garrett, who had continuously failed to send the ball to his playmakers in space and perform the most basic serves – like scoring points.
The result was 42 offensive touchdowns in 26 games for the Giants (3-7), the fewest of all teams (including New York Jets) since the start of last season. This finally got Garrett fired Tuesday, the day after the judge criticized him in an unusual way following the loss to the Bucs.
Garrett was the first major hunk to drop following another disappointing season. He is unlikely to be the last.
GM Dave Gettleman had better not leave his key card behind on a scouting trip. If he does, there may not be a new one when he returns. Not with an 18-40 record since being hired to replace two-time Super Bowl winner Jerry Reese.
Screening staff should also be notified. It should be obvious every time he looks at the struggling offensive line and the rest of the roster he’s assembled.
Even Judge, with Garrett gone and Gettleman’s sacking almost a formality at this rate, you better be careful. Tuesday’s move removed part of the built-in shelter that may have improved the judge’s job security.
With Garrett out, the spotlight gets brighter on the Giants coach. The judge has a 9-17 record, and while his job doesn’t appear to be in danger now, at some point he will have to start winning soon, as it’s not good enough.
It’s not that the judge took this into consideration when Garrett’s sacking.
“I hardly ever worry about the outside perception,” he said. “I make moves that I think are in the best interests of the team, and when you’re in a leadership position you can’t really care whether it’s a popular decision or not.
“You have to make the right decision.”
It is difficult to dispute this movement. The judge couldn’t afford to alienate his biggest stars, who were increasingly frustrated with the team’s lack of offensive success in what looks like it’s destined to be another non-playoff season.
The Giants had a running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle André Thomas back against the Bucs. They had receivers Kenny golladay and Kadarius toney healthiest they’ve been in a long time. Still, they only managed 215 total yards against a Tampa Bay defense that had struggled in recent weeks.
It was the last straw for Garrett, who according to sources seemed to be losing influence in recent weeks.
Stephen A. Smith rings on the Giants after their loss to the Buccaneers.
“I don’t think we’re scoring enough points,” Judge said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s my job as the head coach to make sure that I give our players the opportunity to go out there and play.”
Strategist Daniel Jones is at the top of this list. He is in the 3rd year of his progression. Gone is the excuse that Garrett’s offense is holding him back. The judge said the Giants would use an internal collaborative effort to fill the role of Garrett. A source told ESPN that senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens is expected to be involved in the playcall. The judge declined to publicly name an appellant and hinted that he might be involved.
This may be the answer. After all, Jones threw 24 touchdown passes in his 12 games in Pat Shurmur’s offense as a rookie. He pitched 20 in 24 games under Garrett. And despite the offensive line’s woes, there is confidence in the build-up of playmakers surrounding the quarterback.
“We definitely have good players in some places and we have to do a good job of giving them the ball,” Jones said after Monday’s loss. “Like I said, it’s up to me to do it. We had chances. There were opportunities. I have to do a better job to find these guys.”
It’s hardly surprising that Garrett was a failed experiment. He and Judge still seemed to be an arranged marriage.
Garrett was well regarded by co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch after spending time with the organization from 2000 to 2003 as a player. They respected him from a distance as a coach when he was with the Dallas Cowboys. Property therefore suggested that the judge meet Garrett after taking over from the Giants.
The judge agreed, the meeting apparently went well and Garrett eventually became the coordinator despite not being in the judge’s working circle and not calling any exhibits since 2013.
“Just very simply on the staff, I hire the staff,” the judge said Tuesday in response to the idea that Garrett had been forced on him by property.
It didn’t matter. Garrett always seemed on the wrong side of things. His fate seemed inevitable after the departure of two of his former assistants in Dallas: offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who was fired after an altercation with Judge last season and assistant running backs coach Stephen Brown, who has not been brought back this season.
According to sources, the Giants have considered sacking Garrett during the offseason. But Garrett’s relationship with Jones prompted the Giants to give college another try. It went on for another 10 mostly unsuccessful games that saw the Giants rank 25th in the NFL at 18.9 points per game.
There were signs last week that the relationship was drawing to a close when Garrett made curious comments about the state of the offensive line, noting that the unit was in the infant stages of a rebuild.
The rebuilding of the Giants will continue without him, but with others under the microscope.