The first major shoe has dropped in the NFL coaching carousel to come. After yet another disappointing outing in Week 12 that saw the New York Giants embarrassed at the hands of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team opted to part ways with their offensive coordinator — firing Jason Garrett on Tuesday, the Giants confirmed.
Later on Tuesday afternoon, Garrett released a statement concerning his termination via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News:
“Today is certainly disappointing, but I want to say how truly grateful I am to the Mara and the Tisch families for giving me the opportunity to coach for their New York Giants. They represent all that is good about the NFL. I also want to thank the Giants’ coaches and staff for their hard work and their unwavering kindness to my wife Brill and me. This building is filled with great people who made our time here special. Most of all, I want to express my gratitude to the players that I’ve had the privilege to coach here. While the bottom-line results weren’t what we wanted, I’ll be forever inspired by their approach, their professionalism and the fight they demonstrated regardless of the circumstance.
“One of the things that motivated me to accept this position was the opportunity to help rebuild the Giants into a contending team. We knew there would be many challenges. My expectations for our offense were much greater than what our results have been, and I accept full responsibility for that.
“Know that I wish everyone with the Giants nothing but the best going forward. In gratitude, Jason Garrett.”
It’s a move many thought was on the horizon after hearing the post-game comments from head coach Joe Judge, wherein Judge lambasted the Giants coaching staff as a whole and refused to comment on the future of Garrett. It also appears this was long in the making, with additional reports suggesting Judge had relieved Garrett of play-calling duties prior to this past weekend, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network — a demotion that’s seen him go from being a head coach of the Dallas Cowboys to offensive coordinator for the Giants before being moved to a role as a positional coach and now a free agent.
But despite the failures Garrett has experienced, his name will instantly be mentioned as a top candidate for vacancies around the league in 2022, and that includes the Las Vegas Raiders — as one example.
In Garrett’s absence, Freddie Kitchens, currently serving as a senior offensive assistant in New York, will take over the Giants’ play-calling responsibilities, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Kitchens served as interim offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns before being awarded the role full-time. He then went on to become head coach of the Browns, albeit to disastrous results, before joining the Giants as tight ends coach in 2020 — the same year Garrett rejoined the organization as a part of Judge’s incoming staff.
For Garrett, it’ll be about regrouping for what will eventually be the third tectonic shift in his coaching career in as many seasons, having parted ways with the Cowboys following the 2019 season for an incoming Mike McCarthy — after a decade as head coach and decades (plural) in the organization (stemming back to his days as Troy Aikman’s backup) — hoping for better luck with an equally familiar Giants organization but a wholly unfamiliar Judge.
As noted above, there is already one NFL team looking for a permanent head coach and Rich Bisaccia, the current interim who spent several seasons under Garrett in Dallas, has seen his luster wear off fairly quickly. Garrett might also garner interest in the collegiate ranks, something that seems a foregone conclusion, and it’ll be up to him to decide if he wants to try his hand again at the pro level in 2022, or if he’d like to use his ability to motivate players to help push a collegiate program forward.
That is also to-be-determined, a theme that now defines another disappointing season for all involved.