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Giants Now 8/12: PFF ranks Kevin Zeitler one of NFL's top interior OL


PFF ranks Kevin Zeitler as one of NFL's top interior o-linemen

Kevin Zeitler was a first round pick by the Cincinnati Bengnals back in 2012. In his rookie campaign, Zeitler started all 16 games and wound up being named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team. The offensive lineman has started all 16 games in five of his eight NFL seasons and has missed just one game over the last five years.

Zeitler's PFF pass-blocking grade has ranked in the top 15 among all qualifying guards seven times in his eight seasons, including his 2018 campaign where he earned the analytics site's highest pass-blocking grade among guards with a 91.7.

The veteran started 15 games at right guard in his first season with the Giants last year and earned a 76.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus after allowing just three sacks on 991 total offensive snaps. His 76.4 overall grade ranked as the highest among anyone on the Giants' offense and the seventh-highest among the league's guards. In fact, Zeitler has graded above a 73 every season since entering the league in 2012.

PFF ranked the league's top 25 interior offensive linemen ahead of the 2020 season, and the Giants' starting right guard came in at No. 16.

As PFF's Ben Linsey writes, "One year after the Olivier Vernon-for-Zeitler swap with the Browns, it appears as if the Giants got the better end of the deal. Vernon struggled to stay healthy yet again, and Zeitler was once more one of the best guards in the NFL. Stretching back to the start of his career in 2012, Zeitler has been one of the best pass-blocking guards in football. His 87.5 pass-blocking grade across those eight seasons ranks eighth at the position, just behind DeCastro among qualifying guards. This past season was no different, as Zeitler ranked seventh overall at the guard position with a PFF grade of 76.4. He's just about as reliable as they come, sticking out as a bright spot on a Giants' offensive line that has some questions heading into the 2020 season."

Jason Garrett tasked with developing Daniel Jones

Jason Garrett knows quarterbacks.

He played the position his entire career, at University High School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Princeton University; and with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he played 41 games, including nine starts. In 9½ season as the Cowboys' head coach, he tutored productive quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott.

Garrett also knows Giants quarterbacks. He was a backup to Kerry Collins from 2000-03. And including his stint as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator, his Dallas teams matched up against Eli Manning 26 times.

Now in his first season as the Giants' offensive coordinator, Garrett is tasked with developing the new generation of quarterbacks, Daniel Jones. Last Nov. 4, he saw Jones complete 26 of 41 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown in Dallas' Monday night victory in MetLife Stadium. Garrett taught Jones the Giants offense remotely during the offseason and has finally been able to work with him on the field in the early stages of training camp.

Garrett is excited about what he's seen and the potential for what lies ahead.

"Since I've been here, he's been a real joy to work with," Garrett said on a Zoom call today. "There's no question he is a football guy. He loves football. He's always so prepared, he's always studying his stuff, he always has great questions and wants to get better. My experience has been, when you have that kind of approach and that kind of attitude, if you have some ability, you're going to keep growing and getting better every day, and he's certainly done that.

"The thing you just like so much about Daniel is just his approach. He clearly has ability. He's someone who's big, he's strong, he's athletic, he has a really good arm. He has all the tools you're looking for. But the thing that really jumps out is the approach that he takes every day. Like I said, he's a ball guy. He loves ball. He works very hard at it and he's always trying to refine his skills. He's always trying to gain more knowledge and find a way to become a better quarterback, individually and for our team. That's what you get most excited about."

Will Giants' defense be 3-4, 4-3 or 4-2-5? 'Yes'

Many people have been asking what the Giants' base defense will look like. Will it be a 4-3, 3-4, 2-4, 3-3-5, or 4-2-5?

"I'm not trying to make a joke of it," the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator said during Tuesday's video conference with reporters. "We are going to do what's best with what we have in terms of the people, the personnel we have and what we think is best for the game. … They all kind of blend together in my mind."

In other words, he plans to deploy all of those schemes -- and more -- on Sundays. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said as much about his side of the ball during a separate video conference shortly before Graham. Under Joe Judge, the Giants want to attack opponents in a variety of ways.

It is up to the coordinators to make them as simple as possible for the players, especially in a year when teams have yet to practice fully together, which will happen later this week.  

"Even with trying to be multiple, the idea is to be multiple in a limited amount of scheme so that we're doing all the fundamentals that we are looking for on defense," Graham said. "In terms of playing with our hands, playing with good pad level, setting the edge, defending the deep part of the field and tackling, that's what we focus on."

Thomas McGaughey, Joe Judge share 'special' bond

This is the 19th consecutive year Thomas McGaughey has coached as a special teams coordinator or assistant in the NFL or a major college program.

Prior to this season, he worked under head coaches Dick Vermeil, Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin, Rex Ryan, Jim Tomsula, Ron Rivera and Pat Shurmur in the NFL and Art Briles and Les Miles in college.

Head coach No. 10 is different for McGaughey, because Joe Judge has an extensive special teams background. Judge spent the previous 11 years coaching the kicking game, as an assistant at Alabama (2009-11) and in New England (2012-14) and as the Patriots' coordinator (2015-19, doubling as the wide receivers coach last season).

McGaughey is in his third season as the Giants' coordinator, a position he previously held at LSU and with the Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers. He is thrilled to have one of his own as the team's new coach.

"Joe's been awesome," McGaughey said today on a Zoom call. "I can't even begin to tell you. It's been very enlightening and he has been outstanding. I just look forward to getting the season going, just watching him grow as a new head coach and just see how far he can take us.

"It's one of those things where it's kind of a perfect marriage. Joe has a ton of experience and has had a ton of success in the league. We just sit down and come up with the things that feel like are good for the unit and we implement them. It's an easy conversation, it flows great. We put the stuff together that is going to help the team the best. We put it all out there, guys love it, they eat it up. They just go out there and do it on the field. Practice it, walk through it and those the different things. It's weird, it's a really good situation."

Giants sign WR Cody White, OT Jackson Dennis

The Giants made a pair of roster moves, today, adding wide receiver Cody White and tackle Jackson Dennis.

They waived tight end Kyle Markway and linebacker Mark McLaurin.

White, 6-3 and 215 pounds, was signed as a free agent following the NFL Draft by the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who waived him on July 29.

He played in 35 games with 26 starts at Michigan State. He finished his career ranked seventh in MSU history with 143 receptions, 12th with 1,967 receiving yards and tied for 16th with 12 touchdown catches. White compiled 2,115 all-purpose yards (1,967 receiving, 85 punt return, 63 rushing) and had five career 100-yard receiving games. In 2019, he was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after finishing fourth in the league with 66 catches, for 922 yards and six touchdowns, all career-high totals.

Dennis, 6-7 and 308 pounds, was signed by the Arizona Cardinals following the draft and was waived on July 26, when the team cut its roster to 80 players.

Dennis played in 40 games with 24 starts in five seasons at Holy Cross. In 2019, he started all 12 games at right tackle for an offense that averaged 135.9 rushing yards per game and scored 18 rushing touchdowns.

View photos from the career of wide receiver Cody White.

Photos: Giants back in action on Tuesday

View photos from Tuesday's session at training camp in the gallery below.

View photos from Tuesday's session at training camp.


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