New York Giants: Freddie Kitchens’s promotion could lead to a more vertical offense

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The 2020 New York Giants offense was pitiful. They averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game, ranked 31st in the NFL. But things might change drastically for the stale dink-and-dunk Giants passing attack in 2021. Joe Judge and the Giants made crucial changes to their coaching staff this offseason to fix their offense, including a key promotion of Freddie Kitchens.

Last offseason, the New York Giants hired Joe Judge as their next head coach. Coach Judge built an impressive staff that included numerous former-head coaches as assistants. In 2019, Freddie Kitchens was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns before being fired and ultimately hired the same offseason by the Giants as a tight ends coach.

Freddie Kitchens’s role has changed this offseason. Kitchens received a promotion from tight ends coach to “senior offensive assistant.” This promotion will give Freddie Kitchens more responsibility with the offensive line’s connection to the scheme and could also give him a greater influence on the offense’s passing attack.

How Freddie Kitchens can influence the Giants’ offense

Working with the offensive line

Head coach Joe Judge said that Freddie Kitchens’s “primary responsibility is going to be working with the front” in his new senior offensive assistant position. Judge explained, “tying into having two young offensive line coaches with Rob and Ben, I think Freddie is going to be an asset up front working directly with them and helping bring together the game planning, like all of our coaches will, but working directly with (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) with some of the things that are going to happen upfront.”

This move could lead to less miscommunication along the offensive line. Kitchens will work to streamline the communication between the offensive line and the offensive coordinator. Freddie Kitchens will work to help the Giants’ young offensive line develop this year, but his influence in the team’s offensive scheme might be even more exciting.

Creating a more vertical passing attack

It is no question that the Giants want to get more vertical on offense in 2021. They added one of the best vertical weapons in the entire NFL this offseason with they signed star wide receiver Kenny Golladay. The Giants also added speedy wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the draft. These two could create an elite vertical receiving duo.

The Giants’ new wide receivers will go as far as the scheme lets them. The biggest criticism of Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme in 2020 was the lack of vertical passing concepts. That is bound to change in 2021 with the new weapons acquired and the promotion of Freddie Kitchens.

Freddie Kitchens’s influence

Quarterbacks in Freddie Kitchens’s offense tend to have a high average depth of target. Under Todd Haley in 2018, Baker Mayfield’s ADOT was just 6.8 but shot up to 9.1 once Freddie Kitchens took over. According to PFF, Mayfield’s ADOT under Kitchens in 2018 was 9.6 yards, a very deep average. Kitchens again had him over 9 yards in 2019, averaging 9.2 yards ADOT.

Compare this to Daniel Jones’s first two seasons in the NFL. Under Shurmur in 2018, Jones’s ADOT was 8.4 yards. Garrett’s notoriously non-vertical offense in 2018 brought Daniel Jones’s ADOT down to 8.0 yards. Now, as a senior offensive assistant, one must assume that Freddie Kitchens will help Jason Garrett implement more vertical passing concepts and try to raise Daniel Jones’s ADOT in 2021.

Baker Mayfield threw 72 total 20+ yard passes in 2018 and 76 attempts in 2019. Kitchens had him airing the ball deep frequently. Daniel Jones threw 54 deep passes under Shurmur in 2018, playing in only 12 games. In 14 games under Garrett in 2020, Jones threw far fewer deep balls, only 43 total. This is obviously a problem, especially when considering Daniel Jones had a 132.5 passer rating on 20+ yard throws last season, the highest in the NFL.

What this means for Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense

It’s time to see more Danny Dimes. Daniel Jones was, statistically, one of the best deep passers in the NFL last season. NFL’s Next Gen Stats listed Jones as the top-ranked deep passer in 2020. Next Gen Stats notes that Daniel’s CPOE (completion percentage over expected) on deep passes was +14.8%, the highest percentage in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, Daniel Jones was the third-highest graded quarterback in the NFL on deep passes in 2020. Jones’s 95.6 deep-passing grade ranked behind only Russell Wilson and Derek Carr last season.

As the Giants’ offense moves toward a more vertical passing attack in 2021, this could be huge for Daniel Jones in his make-or-break third season. Daniel Jones is an efficient deep-passing quarterback. He has not thrown the deep ball very often in his first two NFL seasons. But when he has, he has proven to have elite downfield accuracy. Freddie Kitchens will work to increase the volume of deep passes that Daniel Jones throws this season, leading to a more explosive New York Giants offense.

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