Giants Offense: The mystery of the missing points

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

This past offseason, the Giants hired Ben McAdoo to be their new offensive coordinator and playcaller. Kevin Gilbride, the former OC who won two Super Bowls here decided to “retire”, leaving the door open for the Giants to change the direction of the offense.

Eli Manning is completing 61.9 percent of passes this season. Credit: USA TODAY.

Eli Manning is completing 61.9 percent of passes this season. Credit: USA TODAY.

The main objective was to re-energize and refocus QB Eli Manning, who had become inefficient and turnover-prone. The goal was – and is – to get his completion rate to near or above 70%, an initiative that is still a work in progress (Eli is currently completing 61.2% of his passes).

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Week 12 Preview: Giants, Cowboys in for another tight game

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants face the Cowboys Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in a game the country hopes will be a competitive one. It usually is. The Cowboys have won the past three, but the games have been close. The Cowboys won 31-21 in Week 7, but the previous three contests were decided by five points or less.

The first game between these two teams on Oct. 19 drew 27 million viewers, the sixth most-watched program on American television this season.

What’s at stake for the Giants….At 3-7 and losers of five straight, they could use a win on national TV to keep the season interesting the rest of the way. They could also use a boost in self-esteem and begin to work towards next season – whatever that might hold.

The skinny…With changes looming after the season, winning or losing the rest of the way will not necessarily determine the fate of Tom Coughlin. The team has never quit on him and is unlikely to start now. Injuries have taken their toll on them but some of the expensive free agents are returning and/or getting healthier. Look for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Rashad Jennings and Geoff Schwartz to make an impact the rest of the season.

What’s at stake for the Cowboys….They are tied atop the NFC East at 7-3 with the Eagles, who play Tennessee on Sunday at home, so a win would keep them at least tied.

The skinny…Having not played since November 9 when they ran the Jaguars out of Wembley Stadium by the score of 31-17, the Cowboys will be rested. In their last game, QB Tony Romo (back) returned to the lineup and completed 20 of 27 passes for 236 yards and three TDs. Beating the Giants is Romo’s specialty of late and with this being a division game, expect another efficient, productive performance out of him.

Stat you can’t ignore…Led by RB DeMarco Murray, Dallas is averaging 153 yards per game on the ground and 4.9 YPC. The Giants’ defense is last in the NFL against the run, surrendering 145 YPG, 4.9 YPC and 13 TDs. In the Cowboys’ Week 7 win in Dallas, they rushed for 156 yards, gaining 4.5 YPC.

Players you have to keep an eye on….Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr., who had two TD grabs in the first meeting. Beckham has 33 catches for 357 yards over the past three games since then. He has gone up against some of the league’s top corners over that stretch and come out ahead. The Cowboys defense is ranked 14th in the NFL against the pass, but Dallas lacks a top CB that can run with Beckham.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten is getting up there in age, but he’s still productive. A forgotten man at the beginning of the season, Witten  has 22 targets over his last three games, and is reasserting himself  back into the Cowboys’ offense. Witten is 16th on the NFL’s all-time receptions list. His 918 receptions are the most by any active TE and second overall to Tony Gonzalez (1,325).

Did you know?…..DE Jason Pierre-Paul has 3.5 sacks this season, two of which came against the Cowboys in Week 7…DE Robert Ayers, Jr. – not JPP or Damontre Moore – leads the team in sacks with 5….The Giants have lost the time of possession battle in each of their last five games and in six of their first ten games. The only games they held the ball longer than their opponent was during their three victories and their Week Two loss to the Cardinals.

Giants need to ‘keep fighting’

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants know what it’s like to be in free fall, having lost six in a row to start the 2013 season. After a 3-2 start this year, five consecutive losses has them in free fall again. Head coach Tom Coughlin, who never surrenders, never gives up the ship was asked to compare last year’s skein to this year’s:

NFL: Houston Texans at New York Giants“Keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting, that is all it takes, one game at a time, bounce back. Again, it is about all of those eyes that look at me on Wednesday morning, I am thinking about them, quite frankly, trying to bring them through the disappointment toward the next opponent.”

Coughlin, who emphasizes divisional games to his players, was asked if their was still some juice to Sunday’s game despite the teams having opposite records…

“I think divisional games are, and certainly, we are blessed, if you will, to be in a division that’s highly competitive and everybody calls everybody a rival and it certainly makes for some very, very interesting games and competition. Over the years, we’ve seen it and been a part of it.”

The Giants may have lost five straight games, falling out of contention in the process, but Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett knows his team has to be prepared for just about anything on Sunday night. Even though Dallas has beaten the Giants in the last three meetings, records get set aside when these two teams meet.

“To me, you see a good football team,” Garret said of the Giants on his conference call Wednesday. “We study these guys a lot; they are in our division so we do spend some time in the offseason on them. Certainly, when you play them twice a year, you spend a lot of time watching tape, and they have a lot of good players and are a well –coached team. You said it, they have played some good opponents and they played them well, and they are right in the game. At the end of the game last week, that is a hard thing to, particularly when you are on the minus side of the turnover ratio.

“They are doing some good things, both in the run game, and pass game, certainly they challenge on defense, and the kicking game as well. We recognize the challenges they present and all throughout their team. We are preparing our best to be ready for them.”

Giants begin the beginning of the end

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants begin preparations this morning for their final six games of the season. The face the Cowboys this Sunday Night at MetLife Stadium. It will, thankfully, be their final appearance on national television this season.

USATSI_8183429_110579513_lowresThey play at 1 p.m. in five of the final six, the only late start being the 4:05 p.m. game in St. Louis in Week 16. The other road games are against AFC South opponents: Jacksonville next week and then Tennessee the week after.

In addition to hosting the Cowboys, the Giants will host their other two NFC East rivals in the final stretch of the season. The Redskins are here Week 15 and the Eagles close out the regular season schedule at MetLife in Week 17.

At 3-7 after ten games, the Giants will need to win five of the six to avoid a second consecutive losing season. They are currently in third place in the NFC East, four games behind the 7-3 Cowboys and Eagles. Plus, they do not hold any tiebreakers, having already lost to both those teams.

As for the chatter that the Giants can make a playoff run, please cease and desist immediately. The Giants are currently ranked 14th out of 16 in the overall NFC standings. Sure, they can move up with wins over the remainder of the season, but they’ve lost five straight, so that will be a challenge.

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Giants Week 11 defensive report card, presented by Long Island University

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Overview: The Giants defense entered the game having surrendered at least 423 yards in each of their previous four games. They held the 49ers to just 333 yards on Sunday and the 16 points they allowed were the fewest in a loss since Oct. 16, 2005, when they lost in overtime to Dallas, 16-13.

Long Island UniversitySan Francisco was able to run the ball on the Giants, but to the success that many had thought. They rushed on 37 of their 66 offensive plays for a total of 148 yards.  RB Frank Gore had a 17-yarder and QB Colin Kaepernick ripped off a 16-yarder but the Giants held them to 4.0 YPC, a solid performance overall.

The Niners fumbled the ball four times, losing two, and only managed a a single touchdown against the Giants – a 48-yard catch and run by WR Michael Crabtree who caught the ball on an inside slant then knifed through the entire Giants secondary for the score.

The LBs had an active game: Jameel McClain led the Giants with 14 tackles (11 solo). Rookie Devon Kennard had nine tackles (seven solo), as did Mark Herzlich (six solo).

The Giants got good pressure on the elusive Kaepernick, but came away with just one sack (Robert Ayers) and two QB hits.

The performance was a sight for sore eyes for the Giants and their fans. After getting shredded for the past month, they were able to contain a winning offense and stand up in key spots and make plays.

The Niners were shut down by the Giants in the red zone, going 0-4 on the day and also were 0-1 on fourth down.

Overall Grade: B To read more of this story, click here

Giants Week 11 offensive report card, presented by Long Island University

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Overview: When you score ten points, you usually don’t win. That held true on Sunday when the Giants could not capitalize on a slew of opportunities created an erratic 49ers offense. Even with Rashad Jennings back in the lineup, the running game is still struggling. They gained only two of their 17 first downs on the ground and could not make a yard on a crucial fourth down in 49ers territory at the end of the third quarter.

Long Island UniversityQB Eli Manning’s performance will be remembered by the five INTs he threw, some of which rookies would not have thrown. He is pressing too hard at times and becomes desperate to make a play instead of checking  down of throwing the ball away. He made plenty of good passes but the INTs and other poor throws killed the Giants’ chance of getting the one more score they needed.

The offensive line continues to get outmanned in the run game and yesterday they were inconsistent in the passing game as well. When RT Justin Pugh (quad) went out and Charles Brown came in, the Niners spun him around like a top.

The playcalling is being compromised by the lack of execution. The team is not functioning at a high level and it is inhibiting them from realizing the more dynamic aspects in the playbook.

Overall Grade: D

QB: Eli had problems all day with his accuracy and decision making. That being said,  he still threw for 280 yards against a top defense. He had a nice TD toss to Larry Donnell on the first drive that gave hope to Giant fans around the country. After that, he made mistake after mistake. He finished with a 36.6 QBR and seemed lost out there at times. Eli was once one of the game’s top clutch players. I don’t see that player anymore. He looks tentative and as a result is not making the big play when the team needs him to. Grade: C-

RB: As for a running game, the Giants don’t have one right now. Rashad Jennings returned after four games and the Giants still only averaged 3.1 per carry. They gained only 65 yards on the ground and Jennings had 59 of those.  If you take out Jennings’ 15-yard run, the Giants only gained 50 yards on 20 carries. The RBs were just as invisible in the pass game. Jennings had only eight yards on four receptions while Andre Williams had one catch for four yards. They have to do better, offensive line issues or not. Grade: D

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Once again, Giants crumble at crunch time

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Another loss for the Giants that could have been a win had they executed properly in several spots. The main breakdown this week came directly after rookie WR Odell Beckham, Jr. made an acrobatic catch down the right sideline that gave the Giants a first-and-goal at the San Francisco four yard line with 5:04 remaining in the game.

USATSI_8209627_110579513_lowresWith the score 16-10, the Giants were poised to take the lead with a touchdown. Having experienced difficulty running the ball vs 49ers all afternoon, OC Ben McAdoo decided to take advantage of his receivers’ height and athletic ability with three corner fade patterns that were all unsuccessful:

  • 1-4-SF4 (5:04) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass incomplete short right to O.Beckham.
  • 2-4-SF4 (5:00) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass incomplete short left to R.Randle.
  • 3-4-SF4 (4:55) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass incomplete short left to L.Donnell (E.Reid).

On fourth down, head coach Tom Coughlin decided a field goal wasn’t going to cut it and the Giants went for it on fourth down…

  • 4-4-SF4 (4:50) (No Huddle, Shotgun) E.Manning pass short middle intended for P.Parker INTERCEPTED by C.Borland (D.Johnson) at SF 2. C.Borland to SF 2 for no gain (P.Parker).

The game was essentially over right there. The Giants would get the ball back with a minute and change left, but it was deep in their own territory and the 49ers stopped them cold.

After the game, Coughlin was still still stinging from missing out on a golden opportunity. To read more of this story, click here