EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jason Garrett might be the most popular person in the Giants' headquarters this week and it has nothing to do with his affable personality or engaging nature.
The Giants Sunday will face the Dallas Cowboys, for whom Garrett coached the previous 13 seasons, including the last 9½ as their head coach. Garrett knows the Cowboys, their personnel and is even familiar with their offensive scheme (coordinator Kellen Moore called Dallas' plays in 2019) and will face them for the first time since leaving the organization.
Everybody, it seems, wants Garrett to share whatever he can about the Cowboys that will help the 0-4 Giants earn their first victory of the season.
"Obviously, with Jason's knowledge of personnel within the building, we've talked and discussed different things offensively and defensively with him," coach Joe Judge said. "He's not the only coach who came from that team as well. We try to use everyone we can in every situation."
"I'll be talking to Jason a little bit more and will continue to do that," safety Logan Ryan said. "They have a new offense, coordinator, new head coach over there, a little bit of a different system. We'll just learn the tendencies of (quarterback) Dak (Prescott). … I have to ask a couple questions to figure out how to slow that up. I have my work cut out for me. Any hint, and tip I can get, I'm one known to take it and see if it applies. I definitely will be asking him, buy him some lunch this week. Maybe dinner, we'll be staying late."
Garrett said those discussions are common throughout the league.
"I think that's part of the process every week in the NFL," he said. "You're always trying to understand who you're playing against. So much of that comes from your film study and watching your guys play on tape, but a lot of it comes from your memory of a player coming out in the draft and how you got to know him, or maybe you were around that player or somebody else from the staff or the team was. I don't think you want to get overly focused on those things. But if there's a resource in the building, you certainly want to take advantage of it. I think my experience has been most players and coaches through the years have been generous with that knowledge. I don't think it should be overused. I think the process we go through each week in trying to understand who the opponent is and what we want to do is the best process. But any time you have a resource that you can use in the building, I think it would be helpful for everybody."
Like Garrett, offensive line coach Marc Colombo and offensive assistant Stephen Brown also came to the Giants directly from Dallas. Senior offensive assistant Derek Dooley was on Garrett's staff from 2013-17.
In addition, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was the Green Bay Packers' inside linebackers coach/run game coordinator in 2018 under Mike McCarthy, who succeeded Garrett in Dallas.
But Graham said Garrett and Colombo have helped him "a ton" this week as he's devised a game plan for a Dallas offense that leads the NFL in total yards (509.5 a game) and passing yards (407.8).
"It's a people game," Graham said. "The X's and O's, everybody has that. Everybody can look at the tape, so and so is blocking this guy, so and so is doing this, he passes to this guy. It's about the people, what affects this receiver? You have some insight there, that's what I'm more interested in. What affects this receiver, what affects this offensive lineman? What are his weaknesses? Mentally, what's his makeup? Can he handle if we blah, blah, blah put three guys over top of him and spin them out of there or something like that. If we press right here, is that going to affect him? Those are the questions I want to get answers to. They have the insight, it's a people game. They know the people intimately, so we're able to get some information right there. The film is the film, you go off the film. Those are some of the things I'm interested in."
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Daniel Jones has been mining Garrett for information about Dallas' defensive players.
"Obviously, coach Garrett is very familiar with their personnel," Jones said. "They've had some injuries and some turnover just in terms of the personnel, but his familiarity with a lot of the guys is certainly helpful when we scout them and look at them on tape. The system is different. They're running a different defense with a different coordinator. But a lot of the personnel is similar and coach is very familiar with those guys. So yeah, that's helpful."
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who will battle the Cowboys' big men in the trenches, approached Colombo for insight on the players he coached for four years.
"I think all of us, including the D-line coach (Sean Spencer), have been talking to Colombo a lot about trying to gain an advantage any possible way," Williams said. "Colombo has obviously worked with these guys and knows them pretty well on a personal standpoint. It's been good to be able to use a guy like Colombo to pick his brain and try and gain an advantage."
Garrett was characteristically cordial when asked about the Cowboys, but he's not interested in reminiscing, particularly this week. His emphasis is on improving a Giants offense that averages an NFL-low 11.8 points a game.
"The biggest thing that we're all focused on is what we can do to help the New York Giants play as well as we can play," Garrett said. "That's what we're focused on as players and coaches. Many people around the league, you have history in another place. You know people on other teams. I obviously spent a lot of time in Dallas and am very grateful for my experience there, all the players I was fortunate to coach, the guys I was fortunate to coach with, and everyone in that organization and really the people of Dallas. They were amazing to me. It was a great time of my life. Forever appreciative of that and forever grateful of that, but I'm excited about this opportunity and trying to help this team get better."
What's the most important lesson Garrett took from Texas to New Jersey?
"I learned a long time ago is you have to learn from all of your experiences," Garrett said. "I was fortunate to play in the league for a number of years, and I tried to learn from every experience I had there, whether it was from a situation or from other players or from coaches. I tried to do the same thing as an assistant coach and as a head coach when I was in Dallas. I was fortunate to be around a lot of really good players. I'm proud of the team we built down there, proud of the coaches we had and really learned from them each and every day. You try to take all of those experiences and grow as a person, grow as a coach, and try to use them as you go forward."
Particularly this week.
*The Giants' injury report remains unchanged from yesterday. Linebacker Oshane Ximines did not practice because of a shoulder injury. Safeties Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and Adrian Colbert (neck) and linebacker Kyler Fackrell (neck) were limited.
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.