14 July 2023 | 21:13
There was nothing crazy or desperate about the way the Giants attacked this offseason as far as injecting a much-needed infusion of talent into their passing game.
It can be stated that their greatest madness or desperation was reserved for the pursuit of a long-term contract for quarterback Daniel Jones.
Jones was secured with a four-year contract worth $160 million in early March, and the Giants quickly set about finding him more weapons.
They didn’t guarantee Jones $82 million to get him to pass the ball.
A week after Jones signed his new deal, the Giants acquired tight end Darren Waller from the Raiders.
Two days after that, they signed wide receiver Parris Campbell as an unrestricted free agent.
These proved to be the two most important veteran additions to augment Jones’ passing arsenal.
The acquisitions were of course based on availability, but also on head coach Brian Daboll’s philosophical convictions in relation to how best to build an offense.
“Did they do enough to improve? They definitely improved,” Chris Simms, a former NFL quarterback and currently a football analyst for NBC Sports, told The Post earlier this offseason.
“There’s no superstar, bona fide No. 1, ‘Oh, we’re going to double cover this guy.’ and all that. The reason they didn’t have many superstars at receiver for many years is because they led the league in open receivers. Nobody threw to more open receivers in the history of football than Tom Brady. Every analytics site would tell you that. They knows how to design plays and formulate a game plan.
“I like what they did and it has the potential to be even better than people think. Parris Campbell has superstar ability, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Darren Waller is a superstar, but what with injuries are also a bit of a concern for him.”
If Campbell indeed possesses “superstar ability,” it has rarely shown in his four-year NFL career with the Colts.
His first three seasons were marred by injuries and he spent more time off the field than on it.
He finally had a healthy year in 2022, and his production (63 receptions for 623 yards and three touchdowns) was encouraging, but didn’t earn him more than a one-year deal (at $1.4 million) on the open market.
Waller is the rookie who actually showed superstar ability in 2019 and 2020 with the Raiders before a series of hamstring issues relegated him to part-time status and opened the door for the Giants to only get him for a third-round draft pick.
For the Giants’ passing game to really take off, it appears Waller will need to be the catalyst.
“We know from the red rim, the red zone, that he’s a mismatch, that he’s someone you call the trouble maker,” assistant general manager Brandon Brown said. “You look at what he can do in terms of opening up the field for the rest of our guys, whether it’s adding Parris Campbell, adding Darius Slayton in terms of bringing him back, what he can do from separation , I call it stretching a defense, whether it’s vertical and lateral. He adds that. He wants to open up the lane and we get Wan’Dale [Robinson] back and add those pieces in the opening, Shep [Sterling Shepard] back.
“I think it’s one of those things where he’s a force multiplier, right? He just doesn’t make himself or our offense better, but he makes other players better and he’s going to help set us up thus.”
Waller, in shorts and a T-shirt while working out with his new team this spring, looked like a gazelle sprinting across the middle of the field.
His length is striking as he is every bit of 6-foot-6.
When Jones, at a statuesque 6-5, tossed one up in the air for Waller, it looked like two tall guys playing keep away from the smaller kids.
Shea Tierney, the Giants’ quarterbacks coach, can’t forget the first impression Waller made on him.
It was not outside on the grass, but rather inside the team facility.
Waller was standing in the doorway of Tierney’s office, and there was no room at all to maneuver past him.
“He’s barring the door,” Tierney said. “I was like, ‘Hey, I can’t get in the door, you’re taking it all up.’ He’s huge.”
The Giants had Waller improve and not hinder their coaching staff.
“He’s over there one-on-one, go ahead and throw it to him, right?” Tierney said. “And if they take that away, we’ve got something else. If they try to do things to take him away, that opens it up to everybody else.”
That’s the plan.