Giants' focus on feeding playmakers should boost Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took all of one play to see what this repurposed New York Giants offense was all about.

Quarterback Daniel Jones dropped back to pass in Sunday's 13-7 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Running back Saquon Barkley was flanked out wide left, almost at the sideline. The four other Giants receivers raced vertically at the snap while Barkley hesitated, as if to lull the defender to sleep. Two and a half seconds after the ball was snapped Barkley darted toward the middle of the field.

The pass hit off his hands and fell incomplete, but the result was almost inconsequential. It showed what the Giants and their collaborative approach with Freddie Kitchens calling plays was trying to accomplish after Jason Garrett was fired Nov. 23.

Get the ball to their best playmakers, preferably in space. Allow Barkley, receiver Kenny Golladay, Jones and tight end Evan Engram to make plays. Same goes for receivers Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney when they are healthy. It should help their production.

The approach was apparent when the Giants (4-7) ran a flea-flicker screen to Engram in the first half. It was apparent when they targeted Golladay on their first two passes in the red zone. And it was apparent when, on perhaps their most important drive in the fourth quarter, they dialed up a slant to Golladay on a key third-and-3 and the very next play Golladay was the No. 1 option on an 18-yard gain.

"That was the emphasis, period," coach Judge said after the game. "I see the game through players. That's just the way I see the game. To me, it's important that we make sure that we're involving all of our guys. ... We want to put them in a position to make plays, give them a chance to be successful."

The focus on feeding the playmakers is expected to continue when New York travels to face the Miami Dolphins (5-7) on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox). Golladay saw seven targets, tied for his second highest total of the season. He had one red zone target in his previous seven games before getting the two against the Eagles.

"That's a thing we have to take advantage of. He has size. He has really good catching radius," wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. "I think going forward you'll probably see a little more of that."

It's promising for Golladay and Barkley, who had 17 touches against Philadelphia -- his third-highest total for the season. Many of them were attempts to get him in space. Expect the same for Shepard (quad) and Toney (quad/oblique) when they return from injury. Plays will be dialed up more for individual players than under Garrett.

"I think I realized it pretty early in the week as far as the game plan and what we were trying to do, getting the ball to certain guys, and plays were designed to get the ball to them," Jones said. "You're thinking about that throughout the game as plays are called and coming in. Obviously, there's a read and you've got to understand what the defense is doing. But I'd say I was pretty cognizant of what we were trying to do."

Still, the Giants scored 13 points and gained 264 yards. They didn't run the ball effectively (2.6 yards per carry), Jones was hit five times and under pressure on 29% of his dropbacks, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That is slightly below normal for the Giants but still above the league average.

Maybe it won't matter that Kitchens is calling the plays instead of Garrett. Or that quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, Tolbert and tight ends coach Derek Dooley are more involved in the game-planning and playcalls.

The Giants are limited offensively by their offensive line, which ranks 26th in pass block win rate. It makes it difficult to hit downfield plays -- their 35 pass plays of 20-plus yards rank 31st in the NFL.

But they are intent on making the best of the situation. Part of the solution under the collaborative approach has been to include more input from the top players.

"You need to get a sense, a feel for what they are comfortable with," Kitchens said. "Why would you call something -- and this is what our staff believes -- why would you call something if the player is not comfortable running it? It's your job to get them comfortable running it. ... If you can’t get them to that point, it's kind of diminishing returns."

Golladay didn't hide his feeling about his involvement and Garrett's offense. His discontent was felt by Week 2, and this reshaped approach could be an attempt to keep the playmakers happy. It already seems to be paying dividends off the field.

"It's huge. You can come over to the sideline and actually, since you're the one out there running, you can tell them what you're seeing," Golladay said. "It's one thing running on the field when the coach is standing on the sideline trying to get [to see] all the way on the other side. So just going in there and getting them good information and not selfish information.

"I'm not saying it wasn't openness with Garrett. But Freddie did want to hear from us a little more."

The next step is turning the new approach into points and production.