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.”
Garrett’s admiration for Jones extends back to his evaluation prior to the 2019 NFL Draft.
“I have great respect for Daniel from my first interactions with him,” Garrett said. “That happened when we started to evaluate him in the draft process when he was coming out of Duke. We weren’t in the quarterback market if you will, so we didn’t do a deep dive study into him. But obviously, we evaluate all of the players. There were so many great things said about him from the people at Duke. We admired his career and weren’t surprised one bit that he was taken in the first round and has had the success that he’s had up to this point. We did get a chance to see him play against us and on tape all throughout last year. Playing as a rookie in the NFL is a challenge. Playing quarterback as a rookie in the NFL is a real challenge. Daniel handled himself really, really well. Again, reflecting back on the reports and everything we knew about him coming out in the draft, it didn’t surprise us that much.”\
Garrett’s pro career spanned from 1993 to 2004. His totals included 165 completions, 2,042 yards and 11 touchdown passes. Garrett was 6-3 as an NFL starter.
In 13 games as a rookie, Jones completed 284 passes and threw for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns. His record was 3-9.
Garrett is working daily to help Jones improve and grow and he believes his background will help him get the best out of his new pupil
“I did have the opportunity to play quarterback throughout my life,” Garrett said, “so there’s no question in my mind I feel like there can be a connection there and I can relate to these guys, hopefully in a very natural way that can help them get better. Again, I’m excited to do that with Daniel. He’s been really fun to work with up to this point.”
But many challenges await them.
“There are a ton of things that all of our players need to work on,” Garrett said. “It’s our job as coaches to identify those things and try to give them the tools to get better at it. There are certainly a ton of things that our guys have done well that you want to build on. That’s the process that you go through.”
For Garrett and Jones, it is just beginning.
*Garrett also praised another vital player in his offense, third-year running back Saquon Barkley.
“He’s just one of those guys who’s such a good football player,” Garrett said. “We had to try to tackle him in Dallas, and all of our energy was put on that because he’s such a difference-making player. But I want to go back to his approach. Talk about a first-class person. Talk about someone who loves football. Talk about someone who wants to work hard and do everything he can to be the best player he can be, the best teammate he can be. He’s a sterling example of that. He’s been a real joy to work with.’
*Garrett has been an NFL coach every year since 2005, when he began a two-year stint mentoring the Miami Dolphins’ quarterbacks under Nick Saban. He could have taken this season off to recharge after getting dismissed in Dallas but chose to join the Giants.
“I had four years of a great experience here with the Giants as a player from 2000 to 2003,” Garrett said. “I have had great admiration for this organization for a long, long time. Certainly, I’ve had great admiration for coach Judge from afar.
“I love coaching football,” Garrett said. “I’m just so fortunate to have been able to play football in the National Football League for 15 years, and now I’ve been coaching since then. I love the game. I love every part about the game, as a player and as a coach. When I had the opportunity to come work for coach (Joe) Judge and the Giants organization, it was just something my wife and I felt was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I’m really excited to be here. I’m learning, trying to grow as a coach, trying to help contribute to this football team in any way that I can.”