Ask any Giants fan before the end of last season what they thought of Jason Garrett and they'd say something like: "I'm thrilled he coaches the Cowboys and not us!"
Ask any Giants fan right now what they think of Jason Garrett, their newly-hired offensive coordinator, and they'll mutter something derogatory under their breath as they walk away.
The NFL works in funny ways. Garrett coached against the Giants as an offensive coordinator or head coach from 2007 to 2019, compiling a 16-11 record against them with a streak of six straight victories from 2017 through the end of last season. Now he's on their side where he'll take on the Eagles (16-11 against them), Redskins (18-8) and Cowboys twice a year.
And he could be very good for them.
Garrett's arrival means a change in playbooks and offensive philosophy. While former coach Pat Shurmur was very much a West Coast offense disciple, Garrett teaches from the Air Coryell school of football. Both are pass-friendly, but the Coryell system tends to attack downfield more often. To that end, Garrett's offenses in Dallas were pretty quarterback-friendly and never ranked lower than ninth in passing during the five years he called plays from 2007 to 2012. Having a strong offensive line goes a long way — that's something the Giants are going to have to work on improving.
Here are the tendencies I saw in Garrett's playcalling.
A former quarterback, Garrett has always tailored his system to his quarterbacks. In his first four seasons, Garrett was right around passing 58 percent of the time, then crossed into the 60% range in 2011 before going full pass-happy in 2012 with a 66% throw rate. That got his playcalling duties taken away for the remainder of his time with the Cowboys. Not surprisingly, Dallas' pass-run ratio was much closer to even when they had a dominant run game.
Under Shurmur, the Giants threw the ball 64% of the time in 2018 and 2019. That didn't hurt Saquon Barkley's numbers as he averaged over 110 total yards per game both seasons. So perhaps Fantasy managers should root for Garrett to throw the ball more since it shouldn't impact Barkley negatively.
RB rushes per game
Again, Barkley really can't lose here unless his passing-downs role evaporates into the New Jersey smog. There's no doubt he'll handle the overwhelming majority of the Giants' carries with Garrett calling plays. Garrett created three years of over 1,150 total yards and seven-plus scores for Marion Barber, then Felix Jones tallied over 1,250 total yards. Garrett shouldn't louse this up for us.
It's rare to see a tight end get this much usage, but when you have a guy as talented as Jason Witten and a pass-oriented coach like Garrett, it's not exactly a surprise. Witten's four seasons of 90-plus catches and/or 1,000-plus yards came under Garrett. Before you race to move Evan Engram up your draft board, consider that Witten was awesome at all aspects of playing tight end while Engram is basically a glorified wide receiver. That doesn't mean Engram won't be used for his mismatch potential, however. Fantasy managers should expect him to be among the top bounce-back candidates in 2020.
Garrett routinely utilized his running backs as difference-makers out of the backfield. Only twice did his rushers earn less than 20% of the reception share and only once in six years were they below 19%. This is a definite staple of his offense and should help Barkley's receptions per game rebound back toward 5.7 like they were in 2018. Barkley is an easy top-three Fantasy Football pick.
You'd think with Witten and the running backs getting such large shares of the catch volume that Garrett's receivers didn't do much. Don't you remember Terrell Owens? What about Miles Austin? I know you're old enough to remember Dez Bryant! The Cowboys had at least one 1,000-yard receiver and one wideout with at least eight touchdowns in five of Garrett's six seasons as playcaller. The one year they didn't have a 1,000-yard guy, they had two with at least 850 yards. The one year they didn't have an eight-score man, they had two with at least six.
It's going to be important for Fantasy managers to identify the best receiver in the Giants' offense. Sterling Shepard might appear to be the most reliable when healthy, but he's not as much of a big-play threat as second-year receiver Darius Slayton was and could continue to be. Golden Tate also figures to remain in the offense. It's an interesting group, one which won't require a top-70 pick on Draft Day. It might behoove a Fantasy manager to collect Giants receivers and expect one to be a mainstay in lineups.
Of course, the offense will hinge on the play of Daniel Jones. He seems like a bright guy who could learn a playbook rather easily, so there shouldn't be any concerns about changes in verbiage or system. What we can't say for sure is whether or not he'll succeed. It's true that Tony Romo had some excellent seasons under Garrett, as did Dak Prescott even though Garrett never called plays for him.
The hope is that Jones improves on his 61.9% completion average and 232.8 yards per game — not to mention his turnovers — to become a capable passer for his receivers and a good Fantasy option. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get some attention late in drafts.