New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will assume playcalling duties against his former team less than a calendar year after the Browns fired him.
The Giants canceled practice Thursday “out of an abundance of caution.” They are working with the league’s chief medical officer to determine the next steps. There didn’t appear to be any close contacts as of Thursday morning.
The Giants’ coaches and players did not meet in person on Monday or Tuesday. Per league guidelines, they worked remotely. The Giants did practice in person on Wednesday.
Garrett was hired this past offseason to lead the Giants’ offense after nine seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach. But it has been a struggle, especially without star running back Saquon Barkley. Only the New York Jets have scored fewer points this season than the Giants, who are one game out of first place in the NFC East entering Week 15.
The Giants (5-8) are also unsure whether starting quarterback Daniel Jones will be healthy enough to start against the Browns. Coach Joe Judge said on Wednesday it was too early to make that decision.
Kitchens, who has experience calling plays, will be working with either Jones or Colt McCoy, another former Brown. He has spent this season primarily guiding the Giants’ tight ends, but Judge noted earlier this week that he had been a “tremendous aid the entire season in the way he helps with game planning and scouting reports.”
Garrett will continue to work remotely.
Kitchens’ success with the Browns late in the 2018 season earned him a promotion to head coach last year. Cleveland finished 13th in total offense during Baker Mayfield’s rookie season. He threw 19 of his rookie-record 27 touchdown passes in the final eight games under Kitchens, when the Browns went 5-3.
But Cleveland fired Kitchens after a rocky 2019 season in which Mayfield regressed and threw 21 interceptions.
Judge worked hard to get Kitchens on his staff. The two have ties from their time together at Mississippi State and Alabama, and Judge considers the former head coach a trusty confidant.
Now, Sunday has turned into the ultimate Freddie Kitchens revenge game, with an opportunity for him to call plays again against the team that fired him after one rocky season as head coach. The Browns (9-4) are having a strong first year under new coach Kevin Stefanski, something Kitchens has noticed from a distance.
“I couldn’t be happier for the fans of Cleveland,” he said earlier this week. “They’ve waited a long time to have something like that to go to the games and cheer for. But there are no two teams that are the same. We say that every year.”
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