The link has started to form, remotely for now, during this strange time. Eventually, it will graduate to live and in person. There is strong sentiment Jason Garrett will be good for Daniel Jones, a former Giants opponent coming down from the head coaching mountain top and a young quarterback trying to rise in his profession.
This relationship is one of the most important creations for the Giants to firm up and unveil. Garrett, an offensive coordinator for the first time in more than a decade, has a new batch of clay to mold. Jones, after a rookie year juggling the easing out of Eli Manning and the continued failures of a franchise in the throes of losing, has a new system to learn and a host of different coaches and assistants to impress.
Garrett and Jones. Jones and Garrett. Away we go.
“For a young guy like Jones, who has obviously shown a lot of ability, Jason is gonna help him immensely, with everything,’’ Kerry Collins, a former Giants quarterback and former Garrett teammate, told The Post. “He’s not just gonna be an X’s and O’s guy, he’s gonna talk about that position and what it means to be successful. I’m really excited to see that combination.
“I’m sure Jason is gonna be heavily involved with Daniel’s development. I just could not think of a better guy to have with Jones right now. His brains, the kind of guy he is, I think that match will be just absolutely phenomenal.’’
Collins, 47, lives a quiet life with his wife and daughter on his farm about 30 minutes south of Nashville, Tenn. At one time he operated in the biggest fishbowl of them all, reshaping himself during a five-year stay (1999-2003) that saw the Giants make it to one Super Bowl and qualify for the playoffs two years later with Collins as the starting quarterback. These were, he says, “my favorite years in the NFL’’ in a 17-year career. Garrett, as his loyal backup, was one of the big reasons why.
In four seasons with the Giants, Garrett — the Princeton guy returning to New Jersey — did not throw a single pass. He also did not create a single wave and was a calming influence in what had previously been some turbulence for Collins at his previous NFL stops in Carolina and New Orleans.
“First and foremost, just a quality person,’’ Collins said. “Really high-character guy. One of my favorite people I’ve ever played with. He put great perspective on life, football, everything. He was able to really separate the two and keep everything in the proper perspective.
“From a personal standpoint, on the field, just a tremendous confidant to have. A guy who had been around, played a bunch, been on some great teams and really was a great sounding board for those kinds of things. He was extremely supportive. That was the thing about Jason. Just unfailingly supportive, a guy you could trust with anything and would help you with anything that was going on.’’
Collins instantly saw the brainy side of Garrett, but that is not what sticks with him most of all.
“He understood with every play there are so many nuances with it and while, yes, he has the X’s and O’s inside and out and he was a details kind of guy, he just added such a great understanding of what it took to play the position, from a macro level, if that makes sense,’’ Collins said. “That, to me, more than anything was his best attribute as a teammate and as a colleague, as a guy in the room. That’s why I think for a young guy like Jones, who has obviously shown a lot of ability, Jason is gonna help him immensely, with everything. I’m really excited to see that combination.’’
Jones received his NFL indoctrination with Mike Shula as his offensive coordinator and de facto quarterbacks coach. As the play-calling head coach, Pat Shurmur was also heavily involved with Jones’ development. In Year 2, Jones has Garrett and a quarterbacks coach, Jerry Schuplinski, who previously worked at that position for the Patriots and Dolphins. It will be interesting to see where Joe Judge, the head coach with a background in special teams, fits into the picture.
Just as Garrett was once a stabilizing influence for Collins, so too can he make his mark on Jones. Jon Kitna, a Cowboys backup quarterback from 2009-11 and again in 2013 when Garrett was the offensive coordinator and later, when Garrett was the head coach, believes Garrett’s aggressive tendencies will work well with Jones, especially then it comes to Jones getting the ball out of his hands more quickly, and thus avoiding the fumbles (18) that plagued his rookie year.
“Get back and let it rip,’’ Kitna, who was hired by Garrett last year as the Cowboys quarterbacks coach, said on Big Blue Kickoff. “But if it’s not there, move on. Move on, find the back, find the tight end, find the next thing. Don’t stand back there waiting for something to come open. He’s going to play free. Jason does a great job of not over-complicating the game.’’
Amani Toomer, the Giants’ leader in career receptions, put together his best seasons when Collins and Garrett were on the scene. In fact, Toomer credits some advice given to him by Garrett for setting him straight, as far as what it takes to get ahead in the league.
“He was great,’’ Toomer told The Post. “He was always like a coach, even when he was a teammate. I remember one of my best years I went up to him, I was like ‘Oh man, how can I take my game to the next level?’ Because he was around Michael Irvin [as the Cowboys backup from 1993-99] and around a lot of greats. He was like ‘You got to make it personal, every route, everything you do, make it personal. Don’t just do it by the book, you got to put your own twist on it.’ I’m like ‘Yeah!’ He was great. I love JG.
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“He used to always be drawing up plays and ‘Hey, Toomer you think this will work?’ He was a backup quarterback and he was more of like a coach. He’d coach Kerry. He was like a real conduit between the coaching staff and the players.’’
This will be back to the basics for Garrett. He knows the ins and outs of the Giants organization — a very different operation than the one he left with the Cowboys — and now his job description is streamlined.
“He’s really going to relish the fact that he doesn’t have to talk to the media every day,’’ said Collins, who says Garrett is one of the few former teammates he stays in touch with. “He doesn’t have all the things that come across your desk as the head coach. I get the sense he is gonna be pretty happy in that situation.
“I think he’s gonna love it, I really do. I think it’s a phenomenal hire and I’d be shocked if he’s not very successful.’’
As Collins knows, the more successful Garrett is, the greater the benefit to Daniel Jones.
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