It has come to this when chronicling every move Kenny Golladay makes: Maybe, just maybe, the fact that he showed some emotion after a play he did not make is a sign of progress.
Frustration is better than flatline, right?
Golladay, the Giants’ highly paid and lowly productive wide receiver, had in his hands a pass from Daniel Jones on the second snap of team drills during Tuesday’s non-padded practice. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson in coverage reached in and poked the ball out of Golladay’s grasp. Perhaps this would have been ruled an incomplete pass. Perhaps it would have gone down as a catch and a fumble. Either way, it was not a positive development in a summer of non-positive developments for Golladay.
He picked up the ball, slammed it with both hands as if he wanted to crush the air out of it and flung it away, in the direction of the opposite end zone.
“I was pissed,” Golladay said. “I went down there and grabbed it, and Adoree’ just came and made a play and made it into a little fumble. So, yeah, I was pissed because it would’ve been a big completion for us.”
Based on what he did in Detroit the first four years of his career, Golladay was overpaid with the four-year, $72 million contract the desperate Giants last year forked over to him. Golladay did have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving years with the Lions and in 2019 he did lead the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns. But he did not consistently perform to the level of the NFL’s elite players at his position.
His poor showing in this year’s first preseason game should not be overblown. In 17 snaps, Golladay was targeted three times and he caught one pass for 6 yards. The most notable takeaway was his third-down drop of a low goal catchable ball from Jones on the Patriots’ 2-yard line.
“I definitely wish I would’ve come up with it,” Golladay said, before noting he might have a quibble with the route he ran in conjunction with rookie Wan’Dale Robinson and Collin Johnson.
“Kind of trying to take my time a little bit for those guys, but at the end of the day, I have to make the play,” Golladay said.
More troubling than that drop is the way Golladay, 28, has looked throughout training camp. If there were no numbers on the jerseys and the identities of the players were unknown, all anyone would think about Golladay from watching him every day is that he is a tall receiver who does not display much burst, does not achieve much separation, does not fight overly hard for the ball in the air and does not do much of anything to make anyone think he is anything special.
He goes long periods without a catch — in practice.
“I’m pretty sure you probably know some receivers out here, when they don’t get a ball in practice, you can kind of see it with the body language,” Golladay said. “So, I accept that as a challenge, and just figure out other ways that I can pop — at least on the tape. If that’s me blocking 30 yards downfield, that backside block so Saquan [Barkley] can go, or me blocking for Wan’Dale, or me just winning the one-on-one matchup I have, but I didn’t get the ball.
“I want to go into practice and make a catch, I’m not going to lie.”
Based on his contract, Golladay is not going anywhere for this season, so the Giants have to figure out a way to make it work. Head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen were in Buffalo last year, so they inherited Golladay. Daboll said he and Schoen are in agreement that “whoever performs the best is going to play.”
At this point, no one can come to the conclusion that Golladay is performing close to the best.
“You put emphasis on everything,” Daboll said. “Practice. Ultimately, it’s the games. When you get into live action. But everything right now is a competition. So, the people that are doing the best — and again, your best might be a little different than my best. He’s improving, but all those guys are going to compete.”
In 14 games in his Giants debut season, Golladay had 37 receptions for 521 yards and no touchdowns. He has made no secret that he did not think the previous coaching staff and offense brought out the best in him but otherwise prefers to steer clear of any question about 2021. “Kind of flush it,” he said.
He was asked if the Giants have seen the “real” Kenny Golladay yet.
“No, I wouldn’t say so,” he said. “Maybe I probably showed glimpses last year in New Orleans [six catches for 116 yards] a little bit, I definitely would say I got a lot to prove.”