Giants Offense: What’s been done to fix it?

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Since Tom Coughlin took over as Giants head coach in 2004, the Giants have finished in the top 10 in total offense six times and finished twice more in the top 15. In 2013, the Giants dropped to 28th in overall offense (19th passing, 29th rushing).

The sudden drop in production and success can be attributed to a number of factors. Injuries, age, poor planning, lack of depth and dearth of talent due to failures in the draft all converged on the Giants last summer. They opened the season with six straight defeats but managed to recover thanks to a soft schedule that saw them play a string of teams who were without their starting quarterbacks.

They finished 7-9 but there was no avoiding the obvious – an overhaul on the offensive side of the ball was needed…

Scoring: 18.1 PPG Rank: 28th – 2013 saw the lowest point output in the Coughlin Era, after ranking in the top 10 every season since 2008. Only four teams ranked lower: The Jets, with a rookie QB, and the Texans, Jaguars and Bucs – all who drafted in the top seven in last week’s draft.

Turnover Ratio: -15. Second-worst in the NFL after Houston (-20). The Giants committed a league-high 44 turnovers, (29 INT, 15 fumbles). It could have been worse had the Giants not amassed 29 takeaways of their own. Eli Manning set a franchise record with 27 INTs.

Completion Pct: 57.3% – Tied for 28th in the league. Inexcusable when you have a QB with a cap number near $20 million and a Pro Bowl receiver surrounded by No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks.

Passing TDs: 18 – Tied for 27th in the NFL. By far the lowest output of Manning’s career.

Receiving TDs: WR Hakeem Nicks had 56 receptions but none in the end zone. Rueben Randle led the team with six, and Victor Cruz and TE Brandon Myers scored four apiece.

Passer Rating: 67.6. Another inexcusable showing. It was next to last in the NFL. Only the Jets were lower, at 66.6.

Sacks: Eli Manning was sacked 39 times, a career high, as compared to just 19 times in 2012. Curtis Painter was sacked once, raising the team total to an even 40.

Rushing: Ranked 29th in the NFL in yards gained and were also 29th in YPC with 3.5. The Giants also fumbled 12 times on rushing plays, losing seven.

Third Down Pct: 32.7% (30th in the NFL). The Giants went 6-for-12 in fourth down attempts. For the record, they finished 27th in the league in first downs.

Red Zone Efficiency (TD only): 47.2%, which was good for 30th in the league. By comparison, big brother Peyton’s Broncos had a RZ percentage of 72.7.

So, what happened?

Injuries, injuries and more injuries. The Giants led the league in starter games lost to injury with 91, with 26 of those games along the offensive line. By Week 17 they were down to just three of the eleven opening day starters on offense.

It’s a miracle that this team finished 7-9. They actually could have had an even better record had they not thrown their two games against Dallas in the trash and let the Bears off the hook in Chicago.

The offense moved slowly. From the inception of the play and the deliverance of it to the huddle, to the execution. OC Kevin Gilbride and his staff regularly took too long to call a play and get it into Eli, forcing him to hustle to get the team lined up and giving him less time to audible. As the season went on and the faces changed, it’s widely suspected that many of the players on the field did not know their assignments on many plays, hence the miscommunication in the passing game.

Eli also called way too many time outs as a result, crushing any momentum the team had built. They also committed eight false starts, fourth highest in the league.

The offensive line had a rash of injuries. All-Pro guard Chris Snee (hip) was lost for the season, as was center David Baas (knee). The Giants countered with players such as Jim Cordle and James Brewer, who were overwhelmed at times. To add the to the misery, OT Will Beatty had a sub-par season.  As a result, the Giants offense was sluggish and out of sync for most of the year. Manning was under constant pressure and the rushing attack screeched to a halt. Not having fullback Henry Hynoski for the entire season didn’t help, either.

It’s difficult to call the rushing game an attack at all. Andre Brown and David Wilson were supposed to split the carries, but that plan was quickly scrapped when Brown re-injured his leg before the season and missed the first eight games. Wilson lasted only five weeks before being shelved with a potential career-threatening neck injury. The Giants turned to Da’Rel Scott, but he stayed true to form by getting injured in his first taste of duty.

The team had no choice but to bring back Brandon Jacobs and sign veterans Jon Conner and Peyton Hillis. Those players infused some life back into the offense and were shortly joined by Brown in Week 9 to stabilize the rushing game.

The passing game was littered with a slew of disconnects and breakdowns. Manning was not sharp and made far too many risky throws. Nicks was productive, but he never quite seemed to be the same player he was before his injuries. Randle was inconsistent, running incorrect routes and even looking confused at times. Cruz had to deal with extra defenders blocking his routes and limiting his ability to break off long gains.

Brandon Myers was brought in to take over the TE duties. He proved to be a below-average blocker and a station-to-station receiver. Myers never clicked with Eli and missed on some big plays which cost the Giants in several games.

What’s being done to fix the offense?

Coaching: OC Kevin Gilbride retired and Coughlin fired old cronies TE coach Mike Pope and RB coach Jerrald Ingram. He hired Green Bay assistant Ben McAdoo to replace Gilbirde, and brought in Danny Langsdorf as the new QB coach. Craig Johnson was hired to coach the RBs. The overhaul didn’t stop there. Sean Ryan (QBs) was moved back to WR coach, replacing Kevin Gilbride, Jr., who will take over the TEs. OL coaches Pat Flaherty and Lunda Wells are the only mainstays from 2013.

McAdoo’s system will be a Giant-sized version of the west coast offense. The general impetus will be to put pressure on the defense by adapting an “up-tempo” pace. Eli has always performed well in a spread-out, no-huddle environment. It will keep him focused through simplification and hopefully help him maintain sharpness with shortened pass routes and higher-percentage throws.

Langsdorf will be a refreshing voice in Eli’s ear, keeping him on task, helping him to cut down on mistakes and avoid taking too many risks. Johnson will bring a new wrinkle to the team’s running backs, emphasizing both the rushing and receiving aspects of the game.

Flaherty is one of the game’s top OL coaches and will be charged with the task of integrating the old with the new. Gilbride, Jr. is considered one of the league’s top young coaches and is being given the difficult task of not only following in Pope’s footsteps, but making something out of an under-performing unit. Ryan is back handling the wideouts, where he helped Victor Cruz become a star a few years back.

Quarterback:  The mission this offseason is to get Eli some much-needed help, which management did by getting him new coaches, new players and and a risk-proof strategy. Now it is up to him to break his old habits of locking his eyes on receivers, telegraphing passes and trying to fit throws into unreasonable windows. He also must take his leadership role more seriously and be more demanding of his teammates.

Offensive Line: This has been the area pundits have been pointing at the most as the main culprit of the downfall of the offense, but things are looking up.

In free agency, Jerry Reese signed the massive Geoff Schwartz to play LG, JD Walton to play center, and veteran starters Charles Brown and John Jerry to supply some depth. In the draft, Reese grabbed Colorado State center Weston Richburg in the second round. Richburg is perfect for McAdoo’s system – a mobile lineman that can pull and get to the second level. He can play guard as well. The plan is for Richburg to take over the center position.

Returning are Justin Pugh, who started all 16 games as a rookie at RT. He has gained ten pounds over the offseason and is gaining both confidence and skill with each game. Will Beatty’s season ended with a broken tibia and his status for 2014 remains uncertain. If he’s healthy, he’ll start at either left or right tackle.

Chris Snee plans to return for one more season as the elder statesman. His hip appears to have healed and he will either start at RG or provide backup. The starting lineup, if all goes well, will be: LT Beatty, LG Schwartz, C Richburg, RG Snee and RT Pugh. With veterans like Jerry, Brown and Walton, the Giants’ line will be back in business in 2014.

Running Back: A complete retooling. Brown and Scott are gone. Former Raider and Jaguar Rashad Jennings and NCAA rushing champ and Heisman finalist Andre Williams are in. Michael Cox and Hillis are both returning. David Wilson has yet to be cleared by doctors. Hynoski has re-signed to challenge Conner at fullback.

The Giants traditionally keep four RBs and on FB. All questions will be answered should Wilson not be cleared by training camp. Jennings is both a productive rusher and receiver. Williams is a hammer that gains positive yards. However, his receiving skills need to be honed. Hillis is a tough runner whose best asset is receiving the ball via short passes. Cox is a big runner with a lot of potential and is valuable on special teams. If Wlison makes it back, he’ll be relegated to third-down duty.

The Giants needed more versatility and durability in this unit and it looks like they’ve gotten it. Jennings is a multi-pronged weapon that will see the majority of the snaps. Williams will get his shots in as well, softening the defense while shoring up the short yardage and goal line packages. Coughlin should have no issues with this group. Everyone, with the exception of Wilson, blocks well.

Tight End: We will find out shortly if Reese is right about Adrien Robinson. It appears to be his job to lose. He’ll be pushed by Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells and Xavier Grimble in training camp. Kellen Davis is a proven blocker and short-yardage and red zone option.

Gilbride, Jr. will try to unleash the speed of Robinson and the size of Donnell. If that looks to be too tall a task, they could go with the other two players. Fells has produced in a previous life and Grimble was reportedly misused at USC and could end up being a pleasant surprise.

A veteran, most notably Jermichael Finley, could come into the mix this summer should things not work out among this group. No matter who gets the job, the TE is integral to the offense and someone must produce at this position for the Giants to be successful.

Wide Receiver: The team’s No. 1 – Hakeem Nicks – is gone, off to Indianapolis via free agency. The Giants decided to use the draft to replace him by taking Odell Beckham, Jr. with the 12th overall pick. Beckham is a dynamic player who, like Nicks, simply makes plays. He runs solid routes, has big hands and has a 40-inch vertical leap.

Beckham will line up in Nicks’ spot, but could also line up in the slot, if needed. He will take the pressure off Cruz and Randle, which is key. Cruz performs better from the slot and Randle struggles to get separation in double coverage.

The depth is solid with Mario Manningham returning and Jerrel Jernigan becoming more of a known quantity. Mario is not quite 100% so his participation is questionable at this point. Trindon Holliday was brought here to return kicks but can also play wideout, if needed. Former UMass product Julian Talley has been quietly waiting his turn and could factor into the mix.

 




21 comments
Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

Reese also stresses that his drafting philosophy for the most part is draft the BPA... Well in this draft if his selections were based off that theory; Reese needs to re-educate himself on how to better rate the prospects.. not one player drafted by Reese in the 1st three rounds was the BPA...

Round 1: Donald and Martin rated higher than Beckham

Round 2; Jerrigan, kouandjio, Tuitt  rated higher than Richburg

Round 3: Martin, Sutton, Nix, Chricton, Moses and much more rated higher than Bomley.

I hope Rieese has a crystal ball because most of his picks are reaches.

bleedblue4
bleedblue4

Yeah especially the dearth of talent at QB. That slob of a starter still throws off the wrong foot, makes poor reads and feel short last year when he was supposed to be at his best. Thank you NY Giants for 2 SB's and no thank you for keeping this over paid bum on the roster.

lweight
lweight

David Wilson is done, as far as I'm concerned. To have value as a 3rd down back, he'd have to pass protect, which is not something he's shown any talent for so far. TE is something of a crap shoot with nobody having any idea what sort of talent they have at the position. Otherwise, though, I'm not too worried about the offense. Eli will benefit from a new offensive scheme, and the running game, receivers, and the O-line all look improved (with good depth, which is extremely important). 


I'm more worried about the defense. They addressed the secondary in free agency, which is great, but the front 7 are looking weak and shallow to me. We need either JPP or Moore (or both) to step up the pass rush, and we need the DTs to be effective run-stoppers. 

spider43
spider43

"The offense moved slowly. From the inception of the play and the deliverance of it to the huddle, to the execution. OC Kevin Gilbride and his staff regularly took too long to call a play and get it into Eli, forcing him to hustle to get the team lined up and giving him less time to audible. As the season went on and the faces changed, it’s widely suspected that many of the players on the field did not know their assignments on many plays, hence the miscommunication in the passing game."


I don't know how many times (if ever) that you mentioned this in past blog posts, John, but it's good to see you admitting this. The only other person I can consistently remember hammering this particular point home time after time on this subject was Skookaloop. People may tend to think Skook is a bit over-the-top, but he has ALWAYS been spot-on correct about this point you illustrated today. Beside the obvious injury situations the Giants faced, this point more than others was the reason why the offense collapsed and failed more times than not. It was also the major contributor for the turnovers the Giants experienced.  When left with precious little time to check out of play calls into something more appropriate for the situation, turnovers became the obvious end result of this lack of play clock urgency and confusion that was generated on the field.


With a new, faster up-tempo system in place now, we had better see less of this kind of incompetence and confusion on the field, and a higher efficiency and offensive ranking. The better the offense becomes, the better our defense will perform IF there is some decent clock management/time of possession involved. You don't necessarily have to have a "quick strike offense" to succeed. What is needed is one that simply moves the chains. This new offensive system should certainly be capable of that.

Jeff Comerford
Jeff Comerford

Great analysis.  I think people forget how many injuries were had last year.  I think that with the changes made in the offseason - there is no reason why the Giants can't win the division - or at least make the playoffs.

SNYGiants
SNYGiants moderator

@Michael Stewart  What ratings are you going by? The general consensus? Draftniks who never made a pick for an NFL team? This is all very subjective. 


The Giants are using a rubric that takes into account character as well as talent. A kid like Bromley interviews for them and blows them away. They look deeper into his film reels and they decide he's Giant material. Same with the others. 


I would have been happy with Donald or Martin in Round One but I can see why they took Beckham. He's a confident kid that can come right in and help the Giant offense get back on its feet.


Jernigan tested positive for pot at the combine. After the Will Hill debacle, no way the Giants take him. My friends in the Alabama media pool told me there are concerns with Kouandjio's knee. Tuitt is going to be a good one, but the Giants liked Bromley better. I like Moses too

manchu
manchu

@bleedblue4

you also have to thank that overpaid "bum" for singlehandedly dragging us to the super bowl in 2011/12... getting absolutely mauled in the playoff game against san fran and hung tough.. being 2 time super bowl mvp.. yeah hes horrific, um who do you want to be the quarterback again? unless this was all sarcasm, I don't see all the hate for the guy.. has he been awful? yes but he has been very good also

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@lweight "and we need the DTs to be effective run-stoppers. " Your quote is on the money...So why in the world did Reese draft Bromley in the 3rd round when he was rated as the 19th best DT and 215 overall, and passed on Sutton(rated 9th best DT and 83 overall) and Nix (rated 2nd best among DT and 24th overall..Bromley was projected to be a 5th or 6th rounder... Reese could have traded back in the 1st 3 rounds for additional picks in a very deep draft. Reese once again did a poor job in the draft.

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@Jeff Comerford The NFC east has become one of the weakest divisions in the NFC...Only the team that wins the division has made the playoffs over the last few years (no wild card). Philadelphia will be the team to beat and if the Giants expect to make the playoffs, they must go through Philly and win the division.

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@SNYGiants @Michael Stewart Although you made a valid point with Jerrigan, you also proved my point with Donald, Tuitt, Martin and Moses.. all of them were rated higher than the player selected in that round.. I am not suggesting that Beckham is a bad pick, my argument is that it wasn't the best pick when you consider all the factors...

What was Reese's philosophy in this draft, BPA or need??????BPA is debatable as Donald and Martin were rated higher than Beckham in many websites and not just one....The same can be said with Richburg and Bromley, they are not bad selections, just not the best for what was available...are you telling me that based on the prospects interviews that could have been the deciding factor towards their selections....Donald and Z. Martin had no red flags, Tuitt and M. Martin, Sutton, Nix and Moses didn't have red flags....Bromley should run for congress based on your statement as he went nearly 2 rounds ahead of where he was projected by many drafts and experts suggested...Now you can say that the Giants and Reese have their own way of rating these prospects....Well based on the last 3 drafts by Reese, perhaps he needs to change this because its not working....Again, this was not his worse or best draft, but it could have been a very special draft if Reese would have been more creative and thought outside the box for once...He operated the draft like someone afraid for his job....

SNYGiants
SNYGiants moderator

@Michael Stewart @lweight  Trading back is too risky when you have a list of players that you want. The emphasis was character/talent not just talent. The Giants need guys that can come right in and master the landscape as well as the football part. They want players that can hit the ground running. Some of these other players that were rated higher have too many TLC issues. In the long run, they may end up better players. John Mara wants to compete in 2014.

manchu
manchu

@Michael Stewart @lweight

once again.. what team were we going to trade with and keep ODB? The only one that made sense was Chicago and they thought Donald would fall to them.. the Jets was taking Beckham at 18.. where would they trade back with and keep Beckham? 3rd round was a reach I agree.. Richburg was the best center in the draft.. once again where in the 2nd rd would they fall back to and keep Richburg?

spider43
spider43

@Michael Stewart....  That last sentence you said, in a nutshell, is exactly right... "a lost opportunity to make (the draft) special". Having the extra picks could have resulted in a couple of really good players who fell unexpectedly end up with the Giants instead of some other team.

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@SNYGiants @Michael Stewart @lweight Your explanation to my post doesn't hold any substance...Your opening sentence stating that "trading back is too risky when you have a list of players that you want"????Are you serious??????

Round 1: Beckham was not rated heads and shoulders above the next tier of WR's still on the board. If Reese trades back for an additional pick (5-10 spots back) he can still get a very gifted WR without character flaws and have an extra pick (3rd rd).

Round 2: Richburg was not the BPA at  #43 when the Giants selected, In fact, in many prospects rankings, he wasn't even the best rated center in the draft (Marcus Martin). There was a handful of players still on the board that were rated much higher than Richburg and also filled the need for the Giants. Again, trading back and getting another pick (probably a 4th rder) would have helped the Giants immensely.

Round 3: Taking Bromley over Sutton or Nix was just plain stupidity.

Finally, your comment that the Giants want players that can hit the ground running also has no substance. Can you honestly tell me the players the Giants received will all make an immediate impact as rookies. Or can you honestly tell me that trading back for additional picks in a very deep draft would not have helped this teams overall personnel.

This character issue is an absolute line of --------. With the exception of a handful of players, Reese could and should have traded back and still would have drafted players with good character and no major issues. This years draft is not a horrible draft by Reese, it's just a lost opportunity to make it special.

Skookaloop
Skookaloop

@SNYGiants @Michael Stewart @lweight  

"Trading Back is TOO RISKY"....???????

--- the DRAFT is the SINGLE Most Important BUILDing BLOCK,

of EVERY WINNING TEAM.....

REESE's TUNNEL VISION,

 has SET-BACK the GIANTS Years.....

REESE Wasted TOO MUCH Value in this Draft....

Half the Blogger's on this Site could have Drafted Better than REESE,

THIS YEAR......

even with OUT TRADING BACK.....

1. OT/OG- Z. Martin

2, TE- J. Amaro

3. WR- D. Moncrief

4. RB- A. Williams

5. DT- C.Reid / DT Jay Bromley

5c. OLB D. Kennard

6. CB- B. Jackson



Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@manchu @Michael Stewart @lweight Here is my point....If Reese traded back in rounds 1 and 2, he could of had 2 additional picks. In round 1, if trading back meant losing out on Beckham (so what). Beckham was not heads and shoulders better than the next tier of WR on the board. Reese could have traded back with a number of teams within 10 spots behind him.  Same in round 2, Richburg was not the #1 rated center on the board (Marcus Martin was) and Richburg was rated overall at #68, while other players still on the board in round 2 were rated much higher and filled a need such as Kouandjio, Jerrigan, and Tuitt. There were ample opportunity for Reese to trade back and take advantage of a very deep draft. Round 3 was an absolutely example of Reese being clueless. taking Bromley who was rated #19 at DT and 215 overall over Sutton (rated 9th/83 overall) or Nix (rated 2nd/24 overall) speaks volume. Can you honestly tell me that adding 2 extra picks wouldn't have helped the Giants.... 

spider43
spider43

@manchu.... Keeping Richburg shouldn't have been the objective. The Giants would have done just as well to trade back some spots collecting a draft pick or two, and if Richburg were not available, Marcus Martin from USC would have made an excellent alternative at Center. With an extra pick or two, and either of Richburg or Martin in tow, the Giants would have had additional ammo with which to pick up more depth or quality. In fact, they might have been able to draft another pass rusher, TE, or WR.

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@drewc @Michael Stewart @Jeff Comerford Since Philly won the division last season, the Giants need to go through them this season. I agree with you that Foles will most likely have less of a productive season than last season. However; the Eagles do not base their offensive scheme around Foles, but rather around McCoy. I'm not suggesting that the Eagles will win 11 or more games. I am suggesting that in all likelihood, only one team from the NFC east will make the playoffs, so the Giants need to win the division if they want to make the playoffs.

drewc
drewc

@Michael Stewart @drewc @Jeff Comerford  He only threw 2 INT.  The likelihood is that number will go up.  Defenses tend to catch up with new schemes and I think Kelly's offense will not be as productive this year.  I see the division as wide open not necessarily Philly's.  

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

@drewc @Michael Stewart @Jeff Comerford what are you basing that assumption on? Nick Foles role will not be the same as a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady. The Eagles are not expecting Foles to carry the team; they will rely on a solid defensive scheme and a run first mentality (McCoy).. Control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. As long as Foles can play anythere close to what he did last season, the Giants will have a tough time winning the division.. I'm a 40 year Giants fan and this is not easy to admit.