The Mystifying Dissapearence of Kenny Golladay

The Giants have a Kenny Golladay problem. This is true. The Kenny Golladay problem isn’t a result of only Kenny Golladay’s play. This is also true.

Back in March, the Giants inked Golladay to a 4 year, 72 million dollar deal that was heavily backloaded, given their desperate need for immediate cap space. The team expected him to be a true number one receiver and develop a great connection with quarterback Daniel Jones. That’s what he had been in Detroit, and surely he’d keep that up. Right?

Well, fast forward to today, December 27th, and man has that deal been disappointing. Golladay only has 477 receiving yards on 31 catches and 51 targets. That’s a catch percentage of barely above 50%. Oh, and he has 0 touchdowns on the year. Some other people with 0 touchdowns on the year include me and you. Elite company for Golladay if we’re being honest.

Anywho, Golladay’s putting up career lows in almost every stat possible, assuming relatively healthy seasons. Yards per route run, a personal favorite, and catch% included. But perhaps the most stark stat that depicts how awful he’s been this year is his passer rating when targeted. This year he sits at 63.4 as of the 27th, not including the Eagles game. That’s by far the lowest in his career, in which the second-lowest is 98.6. That’s a full 35 point difference in those passer ratings. One of the main things that’s attributed to this gap has been how he’s been targeted, especially with the deep ball.

Take a quick glance at the chart I published a little while ago below:

Golladay hasn’t hauled in a single catch over 20 air yards this year. He only had 8 deep ball targets at the time, and that number has only slightly increased to 11, per Pro Football Focus. Golladay’s at his best when targeted deep, as he’s posted over 90 PFF grades on deep targets every single year except this one. A large part of that comes from the offensive scheme he was installed into.

Golladay’s 11 deep ball targets rank 47th in the league, behind names like Zay Jones and Marquez Callaway. When he was with the Lions, Matthew Stafford was known to be aggressive and push the ball, with a career average depth of target of 8.5. Him and Golladay had a fantastic connection, as Golladay amassed over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns with him. His quarterback this year, Daniel Jones, has an average depth of target of just 7.3 yards this year, and him and Golladay haven’t connected for a single touchdown. Jones’ inability to stay healthy certainly hasn’t helped either, leaving Golladay to play with the likes of Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm. Neither have shown any sign of competence and you shouldn’t expect them to.

That last point plays into a larger one, which is the fact that there’s a lack of consistency and stability around him. Jones is already a bad quarterback, but that’s been compounded by the change in offensive coordinators and the offensive line’s inability to pass protect. Jason Garrett was fired midseason and people believed that would lead to a change for Golladay’s usage. However, Freddie Kitchens hasn’t been any better, perhaps even worse than his predecessor. A helpful stat here is a player’s share of his team’s air yards. Per Next Gen Stats, Golladay is at 24.57%, next to names like Nelson Agholor. For reference, in his last healthy season, he was at 33.1% with Detroit in 2019. If you’re going to sign him to number one receiver money, treat him like that. The Giants haven’t.

His fellow receivers also haven’t been healthy, or that good honestly. Kadarius Toney has shown flashes, but has played in less than half of the Giants’ games this year and has been extremely boom or bust. Sterling Shepard also hasn’t been healthy. Darius Slayton regressed back to the expectation for a late round receiver. Saquon Barkley’s a shell of his former self. Golladay doesn’t share the field with a single threatening player, and likely won’t for a little bit. Add to this Golladay’s own lack of clean health this year, as he missed weeks 6–8, and you have an overall mess.

However, regarding Golladay’s health, the Giants had to know what they signed up for. He’s injury prone, it’s just who he is. He’s missed games in every year of his career so far and that likely won’t change. It’s up to the Giants to make the most of healthy Golladay, and they haven’t done that one bit.

I’m not trying to fully absolve Golladay here. I think a large part of his struggles this year haven’t been his fault, but some of it definitely is. In his contested catch opportunities, where he usually thrives, he’s struggled this year. He’s had 27 chances, only hauling in 12 catches, good for a rate of 44.4%. That’s the lowest he’s held since his rookie season. He still doesn’t separate, averaging only 1.7 yards of separation, and offers little after the catch. His PFF receiving grade is at 71.1, which is also likely a function of his quarterbacks, but he shoulders some responsibility.

And of course, here’s my little fantasy football tidbit I try to include. Golladay was drafted fairly late this year, around the 7th-8th rounds, and still found a way to disappoint. In redraft, I’d be very afraid to draft him next year due to the uncertainty around him and what we saw this year. Regarding dynasty, ironically enough, I actually just traded for him. I got him for what I thought was way too cheap, being that I traded Gabriel Davis and a 4th round pick for Golladay and a 2nd. It’s likely I look stupid in a year or two, but I was willing to take that chance for someone who’s only a year or two removed from a top ten finish at his position. I don’t recommend actively looking to trade for him, but if you can scoop him for cheap like I did, I’m not against it by any means.

In the end, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Golladay’s checked out of this season. I for sure wouldn’t blame him. He has no one to work with and his coaches and quarterbacks don’t know how to use him. Some of the blame absolutely falls on him, but it’s larger than him. Why sign a player to a big money deal if you won’t even use him properly? It speaks to bigger, more important issues in the Giants’ organization that they signed players without the knowledge on how to utilize them. Nonetheless, it’s only year one of this deal with Golladay. Year one’s been a failure whichever way you look at it. It’s on the Giants and on Golladay to turn that around for the remaining years.

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