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Offense makes 'a lot of progress' heading into Year 2

Improving the playmakers around quarterback Daniel Jones was an offseason priority for Joe Schoen.

The general manager traded for tight end Darren Waller and signed wide receivers Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder in free agency. Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins were also re-signed, while Wan'Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard and Collin Johnson are all expected to return from season-ending injuries.

Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor recently joined the Giants Huddle podcast to discuss a variety of topics, including how the offense has improved since the start of spring practices.

"We made a lot of progress," Jones said about his chemistry with the team's new pass-catchers. "I feel like all the guys we've brought in are real pros from the sense of how they go about their work, how they study, how they work on the field, their attention to detail. You can tell watching film and just how important the smaller aspects of route-running, of the past concepts, you know, how in-tune they are with all that stuff. So it's been fun working with them, and they're really good players. I'm excited to continue working with them this summer and then into training camp."

"I would say everyone that we've added has done a great job of picking up our terminology," Taylor added. "Just the team chemistry as a whole, guys have come in and competed at a high level. They've done a good job each and every day of challenging themselves, but also challenging the room to be better. One thing that coach Dabs asks each man is just to compete. Be a high level competitor each and every day that you step in into the facility, whether it's lifting weights, whether it's in meetings, whether it's on the field. I think each person has took that to heart, and they've challenged themselves each and every day."

Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The biggest addition to the offense, both literally and figuratively, was Waller. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end put together back-to-back seasons with over 1,100 yards with the Las Vegas Raiders from 2019-20, totaling 197 receptions for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns during that span. This led to him being named to the Pro Bowl in 2020.

Waller had the second-most receptions (65) and receiving yards (789) among tight ends split out wide since 2019, trailing only Kansas City's Travis Kelce. 

While he joined the Giants just three months ago, Waller has already begun to develop a strong connection with Jones. 

"Yeah it's been fun working with him," Jones said about his new tight end. "He's a true pro and he's a great teammate, great worker. You can tell he really cares about what we're doing here and wants to be a big part of it. So it's been fun working with him. He's extremely talented and, great guy, great person to work with."

A common theme heard throughout OTAs and minicamp was the offense's need for more explosive plays. Based on the additions made this offseason, improving in that area seems like a realistic goal.

Despite missing eight games in 2022, Waller's seven catches of 20+ yards downfield led all tight ends. Additionally, Campbell recorded the fastest speed of any ball carrier in the NFL last season when he hit 22.11 miles per hour on an end-around play that resulted in a 28-yard gain. Meanwhile, Darius Slayton ranks eighth in the NFL in yards per catch (15.0) since he was drafted in 2019 (minimum of 80 receptions), while third-round pick Jalin Hyatt averaged 18.9 yards per reception at Tennessee last season on his way to taking home the Biletnikoff Award. 

"I think more often than not, the way you create explosive plays is just executing every play exactly how it's supposed to be done," Jones told the Giants Huddle podcast. "You love the bombs over the defense's head, but it's also the catch and runs where we set up a block or we throw an accurate ball that lets the guy continue, keep his speed, make a guy miss and then there's an explosive play there. There's so many things that can factor into that. We've got to make sure we're executing as precisely, as well as we can, as consistently as possible to give us a chance to make those plays."

Perhaps the biggest thing that should benefit the offense this season is continuity.

Jones and Taylor are entering Year 2 in the system created by coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. In Year 1, Daboll took home the AP NFL Coach of the Year award while Kafka received head coach interest from several teams around the league.

Playing in the same offense for the second consecutive season should have a big impact on Jones, who played under three different offensive coordinators in his first three seasons prior to the 2022 campaign.

"I think a big piece of it is just seeing certain concepts multiple times against more looks and you're maybe a little quicker to recognize things in certain situations," Jones said about Year 2 in the offense. "I think you have a better understanding of what you like and what you don't like within the system, and certain plays and certain concepts that you may like more than you thought, or you don't like as much as you thought you did. So, I think all that kind of stuff and just the more reps the better. So, that's the biggest thing."

The 26-year-old's confidence in his ability to run the offense has not been lost on Taylor. The veteran backup noted how Jones' progress has been palpable inside the facility.

"Obviously more confident, not that he lacked confidence at all," the 33-year-old Taylor said. "I would just say whenever you're in a system for the returning year, obviously you're comfortable within what you have to do. Obviously, there's always ways to be better and things to get better at, and I think he's attacked each and every one of those areas of his game, full steam ahead this offseason and just try to be better in every aspect."

Ever since Daboll and Kafka took over the offense, numerous players have gone on record praising their system. The coaching staff determines what each player does best, and then puts them in a position to be able to use their strengths in order to maximize the offense.

It's no wonder plays enjoy playing in this offensive system.

"I would say it's very player friendly," Taylor said. "The coaches do a great job of leaning on what each player does best. Whether that's Waller, whether that's Paris, whether that's Slayton, whether that's Isaiah, whether that's DJ, myself, I mean, Coach does a great job of putting the players in the best position to go out and make plays and be comfortable within themselves. Obviously within the scheme, but playing at a high level within themselves and I think that speaks volume to the coaches, but it also speaks volume to just the respect level throughout the locker room that the guys have for one another, that when your number is called on, we expect guys to go out there and perform at a high level." 

The Giants' offense ranked 15th in points and 18th in yards per game last season. Now with another year in the system, along with the return of the coaching staff and the new playmakers added, the sky is the limit for the offense.

"I think it can look very, very good," Taylor said. "I don't think there's a ceiling when we're clicking. We have talent at every skill position, a tremendous talent at every skill position. Obviously, we have to stay healthy. We have to go out there and execute it at a level that we know we're capable of doing. But just taking it one day at a time, striving to get better.

"Obviously, the end goal for everyone in this league right now this season is the Super Bowl. But there are steps to get there. With the strong offseason program, we're going to need guys to stay healthy in the six weeks that we're off and obviously get back to training camp and continue to keep progressing and just taking it one day at a time. Coming out and expecting our best out of ourselves and actually doing that as well, too, to get to where we need to be."

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.