Giants fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

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Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looks on from the field prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2021
Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looks on from the field prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2021

Joe Judge was angry. His players were frustrated. And Jason Garrett paid for it all with his job.

Judge fired the Giants offensive coordinator on Tuesday, according to a source, just hours after an abysmal offensive performance in a 30-10 loss in Tampa. Freddie Kitchens, the Giants’ senior offensive assistant and a former Cleveland Browns head coach and offensive coordinator, is expected to handle the play calling for the rest of the season, starting Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Giants later confirmed the move.

It was more than one game that cost the 55-year-old Garrett his job, but his finale against the Bucs was a complete disaster and clearly played a big part. On a night when the Giants had finally gotten most of their injured offensive weapons back, they somehow only managed an embarrassing 215 total yards and their only touchdown drive 5 yards long.

The Giants are averaging just 18.9 points per game this season and in 26 games under Garrett over the last two seasons they have topped 30 points only once.

It seemed clear this was the way Judge was headed after he telegraphed the move in his postgame news conference on Monday night. He seemed to be pointing his finger squarely at Garrett when he admitted he was as “frustrated” as his players with the offense, and said “We have too many good players and we have to put them in a better position to capitalize. That’s it.”

Asked specifically about Garrett, he said he had “faith” in everyone in the organization, but added “We’ll assess everything as a team and make any move we need to, going forward.” Asked if he was considering a change, Judge said, “We’ll stay off of that right now.”

By then, it was pretty clear, a change was already under consideration.

Given how terrible the Giants’ offense has been under Garrett, the only surprise is that it took this long, especially considering Judge and Garrett were an arranged marriage from the start. Giants co-owner John Mara wanted Garrett on staff even before Judge was hired before last season, team sources said back then, and made it clear Garrett had his support on the day Judge was hired. Judge and Garrett had no previous relationship, which makes Garrett and outlier considering Judge had obvious connections with almost every other coach on his staff.

Then last year, in Garrett’s first season, the Giants had the second-worst offense in the league, averaging just 17.5 points and 299.6 yards per game. That put Garrett on the hot seat at the end of the season, but he kept his job, according to a team source, mostly because the organization didn’t want young quarterback Daniel Jones to have to learn a third NFL offense in his third year.

But it’s clear the Garrett offense wasn’t working for Jones or anybody else -- and not just because of the injuries that have kept players like Saquon Barkley off the field for much of the last two seasons. Against the Bucs, all the Giants’ weapons were back except for receiver Sterling Shepard, and still the offense was barely functional.

Barkley, whom this offense was supposedly built around, carried the ball just six times. Kenny Golladay, the Giants’ $72 million receiver, had the ball thrown to him just twice, which even Judge said “wasn’t enough.” And there were many more inexplicable decisions and moments, like a key fourth-and-1 play in the second half that failed when Jones threw incomplete to Collin Johnson – who for some reason was the only receiver on the field for that play.

There likely won’t be major changes to the offense over the final seven games of the season, since Kitchens won’t be able to install a new system. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to have a fresh perspective on Garrett’s playbook, and he can add in a few wrinkles of his own. When Kitchens took over as the Browns offensive coordinator halfway through the 2018 season there was immediate improvement and Cleveland ended up with the 13th best offense in the league -- a big reason why Kitchens got the head coaching job the next season. Then-rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived, too, throwing for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions in 14 games – arguably his best season in the league.

Kitchens did call plays for the Giants once last season, when Garrett missed a late-season game in Cleveland after testing positive for COVID-19. That game wasn’t great. The Giants had just 214 yards and lost 20-6. But the Giants were short-handed that game and with Jones injured they started quarterback Colt McCoy.

Now, Kitchens will take over the Giants’ offense at nearly full-strength – maybe completely full strength if Shepard can get back from his quad injury. That should make this experience a little better.

If nothing else, now that Kitchens is taking over for Garrett, it’s hard to imagine the offense could get much worse.