The Giants are not afraid of having too many cooks in the Kitchens.
Shortly before Freddie Kitchens stood in fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s old tracks and coached quarterbacks Wednesday during practice, head coach Joe Judge continued to build up some mysterious, grand, collaborative, weeklong approach to fixing a broken offense Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants have not named an interim play-caller.
“We’ve got a lot of things that may be a little bit up our sleeve,” Judge said. “Any competitive advantage you have, you want to keep to yourselves.”
Kitchens is expected to be the new singular voice in quarterback Daniel Jones’ ear over the final seven games, as previously reported, despite Judge’s cat-and-mouse game. Jones said he will “miss” Garrett and expressed a sense of responsibility for not leading a higher-scoring offense (18.9 points per game), echoing the sentiment he shared at the end of his rookie season when the Giants fired head coach/play-caller Pat Shurmur.
“That’s obviously a big part of how we all feel right now,” Jones said. “I think if you don’t feel like that, there’s an issue. We all take responsibility in our lack of production. I certainly do. That’s what makes it tough. It’s on all of us to perform better and to produce more.”
The only break from Jones’ typically stoic weekly news conference was barely perceivable to an untrained eye. It came as he recounted a “tough conversation” with a well-wishing Garrett before he left the building.
It is clear they built a close personal relationship that existed separate from other offensive stars like Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, whose in-game body language sometimes suggested frustration at not getting any opportunity to make more plays in the conservative scheme.
“Guys aren’t desperately wanting a change,” one team source told The Post. “Obviously, wanting to win, [we] desperately needed to change.”
The question remains: How much can the Giants change on a week shortened by last playing on Monday plus a lighter workload for Thanksgiving? Judge ruled out adding any outside influences to the staff.
“You’re not going to completely blow up an offense and redo things,” Judge said, “but you are going to look to use things a little bit differently. Maybe that’s personnel, maybe that’s scheme, maybe that’s situation calls. As we build through the game plan this week, that’s what we’re focusing on.”
Taking over as an in-season play-caller is not new to Kitchens, who did it with success for the Browns in 2018. But he was fired after one year as Browns head coach/play-caller in 2019, spent 2020 as Giants tight ends coach (calling plays in a 20-6 loss when Garrett was unavailable) and moved into an offensive oversight role with an emphasis on the offensive line this season.
“He’s very direct, and I think you can appreciate that,” center Billy Price said. “He’s been in the offense and understands the brand and style of play.”
The Giants’ biggest offensive issue under Garrett, however, was a lack of identity that could be traced back to no confidence in the offensive line, league sources told The Post. So, what are the Giants — ranked No. 19 in passing, No. 23 in rushing and No. 25 in scoring — trying to be?
“We do a lot of power schemes and tight-zone schemes, downhill smash-mouth type of football,” Price said. “When we did a good job against the Raiders and Carolina, it was a downhill, physical style of ball. That’s what we can try to emulate and continue to build on with little wrinkles based on defensive adjustments. We’ve got a plethora of plays, but at the end of the day, it’s still execution whether you’re calling it or I’m calling it.”
The Eagles are an example of a team that recently found its identity. After attempting 79 more passes than runs during a 2-5 start, the Eagles have attempted 94 more runs than passes during a 3-1 season-changing stretch.
Can the Giants turn the tide that way? Eagles coach Nick Sirianni’s “initial thought” is to prepare for the game by studying Kitchens — but also be ready for anything.
“I believe there’s a competitive advantage [for the Giants] whenever there’s a change,” Sirianni said, “and you don’t have any current tape on the coordinator that will be calling it.”