3 head-scratching Jason Garrett decisions that cost Giants in loss to Falcons

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Jason Garrett claps before Week 3 loss to Falcons
Jason Garrett claps before Week 3 loss to Falcons

In Week 2, on short rest without the normal week-long process of evaluating and fixing problems from the previous week, the Giants’ offense was vastly different than they were in the loss to the Denver Broncos to start the season. It was creative, the Washington Football Team was on their toes, and despite the loss, fans were excited about how Daniel Jones and the rest of the offense performed.

So can someone explain how, with 10 days of rest and going against a worse defense than Washington in the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants’ offense completely regressed?

Jason Garrett, as we said following Week 1, needed to change his play-calling immediately if the Giants’ offense wished to put points on the board and be competitive. He did that in Week 2 and they scored 29 points. It would’ve been more had a questionable holding call and a dropped touchdown pass not happened.

No one said change it back to how it was to start the season.

This isn’t some vendetta against Garrett, but when you go against a team that allowed 80 points in its first two games and you manage to score only 14, it’s entirely unacceptable. And though the loss isn’t totally on this unit – Adoree’ Jackson makes that easy pick in the end zone and the Giants are likely 1-2 right now – the offense had no creativity, no deception, and was stale throughout the game. The exact opposite of the group who took big strides against a tougher division opponent.

So that is why it’s only right to look at how Garrett’s play-calling regressed from Week 2 to try and provide some clarity on what happened at MetLife Stadium on Sunday:

1) Abandoning Daniel Jones’ running game

This was the biggest head-scratcher.

Garrett was applauded for getting back to a facet of Jones’ game that makes him a valuable weapon for the Giants. His legs can be lethal in read option situations, and Washington can tell you all about that after he almost rushed for 100-plus yards on their home turf.

But why didn’t we see any of that against Atlanta when it worked so well 10 days prior?

Saquon Barkley continues to look better by the game, but on his 16 rush attempts, he only totaled 51 yards. That’s because the offensive line, especially the interior, isn’t giving him much to work with. And that’s why having that option with Jones either giving it up to Barkley or taking it makes life easier to establish a run game and open everything else up.

Instead of feeding that strength from last week, Garrett kept it locked up in his playbook…again.

2) Deep Ball Debacle

It’s become a common theme for Garrett: Call a deep ball play for Jones, have him make the pass, then check it off the list and never go to it again.

Why didn’t Garrett take some shots against a Falcons defense missing its top cornerback after watching Jones deliver a dime to C.J. Board down the right sideline on third and short during the team’s first drive of the ball game? Beats me.

It doesn’t make any sense that Jones’ arm, which has proven it can connect downfield with receivers, doesn’t get showcased more. Kenny Golladay, though dealing with a hip injury on Sunday, is a deep threat who hasn’t seen an aired-out pass come his way in three weeks.

Kadarius Toney’s speed downfield, especially out of the slot, makes him one, too, and Sterling Shepard was unavailable after suffering a hamstring injury in the first half. Darius Slayton had the same injury as well, knocking him out of the game. Give him a chance to let loose, right?

Does Garrett not trust his line to give Jones time in the pocket and his receivers time to develop in their route? That could be a reason. But the deep ball has worked, and the proof is in that dime to Board early in the game. You need to take those risks, especially against a bad team, but more importantly for an offense that is having trouble scoring.

3) Kadarius Toney Targets

Fans roared from the stands when Toney caught his first pass of the game, and it was mainly because what he did once the ball touched his hands. He hit a dead stop on the grab, snatching his defender’s ankles and picked up enough yards for the first down.

Then, on the very next play -- a designed screen for him where Jones rolled right but threw back left -- Toney made defenders miss again, picking up valuable yardage in the process.

After seeing what your first-round draft pick does, you only throw to him one more time, even though Golladay has to come off the field to manage his hip ailment and Shepard and Slayton are out?

Collin Johnson, who was picked up late by the Giants after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him during training camp, had more targets than Toney – the No. 20 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Not a knock on Johnson, who made plays, but you get why this is being pointed out.

Toney displayed the shiftiness and yards-after-catch abilities the Giants discussed when they took him back in April, yet he wasn’t seeing the ball after that and only played 66 percent of offensive snaps – the most he’s seen through three weeks.

Toney had a slow start to his rookie season, missing most of training camp with an injury and dealing with COVID-19. However, when your normal receivers are out, this is the perfect opportunity to see what your first-rounder can do if he’s suited up on the sideline. He did that but got a single opportunity – a curl route that was broken up by defenders -- following those two plays to help the offense get much-needed yards. Doesn’t make much sense.

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These are just a few examples and there could be more when film breakdown comes along, too.

But the biggest takeaway from it all is this: These aren't players not performing the acts physically, which is leading to the Giants not scoring. It's the inability to stick to what works, change and adjust when things don't, and not allow your playmakers the opportunity to do just that -- make plays.

That's where scheme comes into play, and that's on Garrett. Week 2 was supposed to be progress, but now it's back to square one. And the worst part is, it's only been three weeks and the opposing defenses get tougher from here.