What Freddie Kitchens’s promotion means for the New York Giants’ offense in 2021

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge made some key changes to his coaching staff this offseason. When Judge was hired in the 2020 offseason, he built a strong coaching staff that featured many former head coaches in assistant coaching roles. One of those former head coaches was Freddie Kitchens, Judge hired him as the tight ends coach.

Freddie Kitchens served as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in the 2019 season. Kitchens took over as the offensive coordinator for Cleveland in the 2018 season after the team fired Todd Haley. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield saw his game elevate to another level once Kitchens was put in charge. Unfortunately, things did not end well for Kitchens in Cleveland, as the Browns disappointed in 2019 and fired their head coach after one season.

Joe Judge then brought Freddie Kitchens onto his staff as a tight ends coach. But, after just one season, Kitchens’s role with the Giants is changing. Coach Judge gave Kitchens a promotion this offseason to “senior offensive assistant.” This new role will change Freddie Kitchens’s responsibilities with the team completely while also having a significant impact on the Giants’ offense.

How Freddie Kitchens will make the offense more vertical

At the beginning of Freddie Kitchens’s career, he worked under Bruce Arians with the Arizona Cardinals. Kitchens learned a lot from Arians and developed his playbook based on the former Cardinals head coach’s offensive scheme. Like Arians, Kitchens loves to utilize 11 personnel and his offense places a heavy emphasis on vertical passing concepts.

Quarterbacks in Kitchens’s offense tend to have a high average depth of target. Under Todd Haley, 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.

Daniel Jones is an efficient deep-ball passer. Unfortunately, he rarely pushes the ball downfield due to a lack of vertical passing concepts in Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme. Freddie Kitchens should alleviate this issue and help Garrett get the ball downfield more frequently.

How Freddie Kitchens will help the offensive line develop

Head coach Joe Judge said that 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.”

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