Giants’ offense continues to sputter under Freddie Kitchens

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The Giants actually scored fewer points after an offensive coordinator change.

But winning really does hide a lot of flaws.

With Freddie Kitchens calling plays as the lead in an overemphasized collaborative coaching effort for the first time since the Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the results looked a lot like normal: Stalling out in field-goal range, emphasizing ball security and not throwing beyond 20 yards in 13-7 victory against the Eagles.

“I thought all of those guys working together did a really good job of talking through the series, making some necessary adjustments,” head coach Joe Judge said. “Not every play was perfect. There are a lot of things we’re going to have to make sure we correct. However, in terms of those guys working together operationally with it, I was very pleased with it.”

Giants
Freddie Kitchens
Robert Sabo

The biggest change in the offense post-Garrett was in passing targets and plays designed into catch-and-run open space. Kenny Golladay (seven) and Evan Engram (six) matched their second-highest totals of the season. Saquon Barkley (five) and Darius Slayton (four) were next up.

Kenny Golladay stretches for a first down past safety Avonte Maddox during the second half.
USA TODAY Sports

So, it was the right top-four based on talent — the Giants played without the injured duo Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard — even if there was a strange late third-and-7 incompletion to Pharoh Cooper.

The Giants averaged 18 points per game and 308.5 yards per game — both bottom-three in the NFL — over 26 games under Garrett. They scored 13 and gained 264 yards against the Eagles (eight plays accounting for 17 yards or more compared to one last week against the Buccaneers) after Garrett was fired because the Giants “need to score more points,” Judge said.

Steven Nelson, left, forces Saquon Barkley out of bounds during the first half.
AP

“There was a lot of stuff that was carried over,” Barkley said. “In Week 12, there’s not really much more you can add and switch up. The terminology is the same. Obviously, we had a few new wrinkles in there.”

The new wrinkles included: Barkley and Devontae Booker lined up as wings at Daniel Jones’ side, with Barkley coming in motion to catch a 1-yard swing pass; a flea-flicker tight-end screen to Engram for a 20-yard gain; and an end-around for a 13-yard loss to Darius Slayton instead of Garrett’s preference for Engram.

“That was the emphasis. Period,” Judge said of feeding playmakers. “I see the game through players. To me, it’s important that we make sure that we’re involving all of our guys.”

The receiver rotation was shortened a bit, but Golladay still subbed out on some crucial third downs. Golladay made back-to-back catches on a critical fourth-quarter drive when the Giants extended a 10-7 lead to 13-7. He received two targets in the end zone, including one that could’ve resulted in a defensive pass interference.

“He’s obviously an issue in the red area,” Judge said. “Not going to sit here and talk about anything that happened within the game, but obviously it’s something that drew a lot of attention to it.”

The Giants scored touchdowns on only 44.2 percent of red-zone trips under Garrett, which was worst in the league. Five trips inside the 35-yard line Sunday resulted in three field-goal attempts (two converted), a punt and a touchdown catch by fourth-string tight end Chris Myarick. So, that went unchanged.

“I think we’ve got to make plays,” Jones said, “and it comes down to players in those situations.”

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