EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Two of the Giants' most important offensive players said today they were pleased with Freddie Kitchens' first game as the play-caller, but they'll be much happier when the attack generates more points and yardage.
"I feel like as an offense we were going out there and competing," wide receiver Kenny Golladay said. "We did some things well, but we also left some stuff out there … with the fades and everything. Just got to get on the same page a little more, a little bit more work at it."
Kitchens called the plays for the first time in the Giants' 13-7 victory against Philadelphia last week. He was given the assignment five days earlier after offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was dismissed following a loss at Tampa Bay.
"You really only could change so much Week 12, Week 13 of the season," running back Saquon Barkley said. "Obviously, we had a little bit of different wrinkles as you can see in the game. But as the season goes on and all the offensive guys get together, probably a little more wrinkles are going to come in. We've just got to come out in practice, run the plays, execute the plays in practice and then when they're called in the game, make it work."
Kitchens and the offense get their next opportunity to build on what they began on Sunday when the 4-7 Giants visit the 5-7 Miami Dolphins, who have won four consecutive games.
Kitchens made a point of soliciting suggestions from the players, who appreciated the outreach.
"It's huge," Golladay said. "You can come over to the sideline, and since you're the one out there running, you can actually tell them what you're seeing. It's one thing running it on the field and a coach standing on the sideline trying to get all the way on the other side of the field. Just going in there and giving them good information, and not giving them selfish information.
"I'm not saying there wasn't openness with Garrett, but Freddie did want to hear from us a little bit more."
"I think, as coaches, we always try to do that," Kitchens said of the importance of communication in the planning process. "You need to get a sense and feel for what they're comfortable with. To me, why would you call something, and this is the way our staff believes, why would you call something if a player's not comfortable running it? It's your job to get them comfortable running it. If you think it's a good scheme or a good play or whatever the case may be, it's your job to get them comfortable doing it. But if you can't get them to that point, it's kind of diminishing returns."
The Giants know they won't win many games scoring one touchdown and 13 points and totaling 264 yards, including 70 on the ground. But they did take one very important step against the Eagles.
"I thought the operation was smooth," said Kitchens, a former head coach and offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. "It's our job as coaches to make it smooth, and it's the players' jobs to coordinate it smoothly once the call gets into the huddle."
In Kitchens' debut, Daniel Jones threw seven passes to Golladay, who caught three of them for 50 yards. The fifth-year receiver had been targeted just twice in each of the previous two games after missing three contests with a knee injury.
"To be honest, I really didn't count," Golladay said. "When you're actually seeing the ball a little bit more, you don't even start counting the targets, but you know if you get two targets if that makes sense. I didn't even know how many targets I had. I knew how many catches I had. I know there were some opportunities out there that I wish I had back, like on those two fade balls. I don't want to leave it in the ref's hands. Just got to do better, but I feel like I made plays down the stretch when we needed it."
Indeed, he did, catching 18-yard passes to give the Giants a pair of first downs on their final scoring drive.
Barkley had team-high totals of 40 rushing yards and four receptions in his second game after sitting out four with an ankle injury.
"This is one of those things where week by week it's just going to keep getting better and better," Barkley said. "Just getting back in a rhythm, just feeling it, getting my eyes back into it last week. I felt like I played better last week than I did in Tampa. Felt like my legs were underneath me a little bit better. Throughout the rest of the season, just going to continue to get better."
Like Golladay, Barkley isn't focused on the numbers.
"I feel like a lot of people get caught up with the targets or catches, receptions, carries," Barkley said. "At the end of the day, it's football. Obviously, everybody as a competitor, you want to be the one with the ball in your hands to make a play to make your team win, but however you've got to get the job done to get a win, that's what it's got to be. There might be a game where I carry the ball 25 times or K.G. might have 11 catches or (wide receiver Darius Slayton) Slay might have 11 catches, (tight end), Evan (Engram) has 11 catches and we win. There might be some games like last week where we're not finishing on offense, but the defense is playing lights out and the special teams are playing lights out and we still get the win."
"I think people outside get so caught up in how many times this person is getting the ball or how many times this person is touching the ball when the only thing and our whole main objective as a team is just finding a way to get the dub (win). Whatever it takes, that's the way we've got to do it."