This is not, Daniel Jones insists, “a B.S. situation.’’
When Jones and Jason Garrett, his offensive coordinator, hang out on the field after practice, tossing the football at various targets — such as the inside of a garbage can — it is not merely one current quarterback and one former quarterback engaged in random fooling around.
“I mean, it’s kind of a game we play, an ongoing competition,’’ Jones said. “There’s score kept and we’re competing.”
Garrett, a backup most of his 12-year NFL career, was never known for a howitzer of a right arm, but he was an accurate passer.
“He throws it pretty well,’’ Jones said, “and he’ll let you hear about it, too.’’
Yes, Garrett will let you hear about it.
“We do like spending extra time having our competitions afterwards, accuracy competitions and ballistics throwing competitions and just how you can perform at nut-cutting time competitions,’’ Garrett said Thursday. “I’m on a little bit of a streak here the last few days.’’
Told this is not what Giants fans want to hear — Garrett, 55, is out-throwing the robust 24-year-old Jones — Garrett fessed up about what really is going on.
“He can destroy me,’’ Garrett said.
This is good stuff. Fun. The sort of engagement that bonds player and coach. There is levity and good-natured ribbing. The Giants need more of this from Jones, from Garrett and from an offense that heads into a new season with many of the same old questions.
The ribbing from the outside toward Jones and especially Garrett is not good-natured. There is no levity. This is serious business and business was lousy in 2020, the first season of the Jones-Garrett pairing. There were some extenuating circumstances. The two had to get to know each other and Jones had to learn a new system remotely. The operation lost its centerpiece, Saquon Barkley, in Week 2. The results were never pretty and were often unsightly, as the Giants averaged 17.5 points a game, 31st in the NFL.
“I think I definitely felt prepared going in last year,’’ Jones said. “I remember feeling confident and ready to go. I certainly feel that way this year too. I would probably say I’m more comfortable having played a year and going through a full preseason and a full camp.’’
Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator, said he has “more scheme’’ in the game plan this week than he did at the start of last season, as so many players are in their second year in the system. Garrett did not go that far, but he did express confidence there is more now than there was then with his offensive package.
“I think there’s a comfort level that guys have who have been here that you can do a lot of the stuff that we’ve done but also build on it,’’ Garrett said.
There are issues and obstacles, of course. Barkley should be ready to roll, but not for a full load right away. Newly imported wide receivers Kenny Golladay and rookie Kadarius Toney should be ready to roll, but probably not ready to excel, as both missed most of camp and all of the preseason with injuries. The starting tight end, Evan Engram, is dealing with a strained calf that likely will keep him out of the opener. The replacement, Kyle Rudolph, arrived after 10 years with the Vikings and missed nearly everything this summer coming off foot surgery.
Garrett did not add any trepidation to any of this. On Barkley, Garrett said he has “a lot of confidence in him as a player. I think he’s done a great job of getting himself back healthy and 100 percent.’’
As for Toney, Garrett said he will be “specific and purposeful’’ with how they use him in his first NFL game — a clear indication Toney will have a role, albeit limited, on Sunday.
This is good news for Jones, as the new skill players the Giants purchased and drafted for him — Golladay, Toney and Rudolph — and Barkley should be available this weekend. There is a caveat: This is a lot to incorporate in a short period of time. There are reasons why the offense might get off to a slow start.
“Yeah, there’s no excuses,’’ receiver Sterling Shepard said. “We’re all ballplayers, at the end of the day this is what we get paid to do so whatever that individual or this offensive unit has to do to get started, there’s no excuses, we have to get it done.’’
If the offensive line can block for him, Jones will have places to go with the ball. This time, though, he will not be competing against his offensive coordinator, which is just fine with all concerned.