The New York Giants‘ offense sits as a relative unknown as we press towards training camp.
Of course, Odell Beckham Jr. returns, as does iron man Eli Manning jersey. But few other aspects of the offense offer reliable, tangible optimism that Big Blue will turn around in 2016 and swipe a wide open NFC East.
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We still don’t know if or how well Victor Cruz will perform after missing more than a year. Receiver Sterling Shepard has drawn rave reviews, but is an unknown as a rookie. The Giants didn’t upgrade the offensive line. The running game enters this year with an uninspiring collection atop the depth chart.
Clearly, New York has plenty to work on when training camp opens later this month. Receiver Dwayne Harris jersey pointed out two points of emphasis this offseason:
“I think we’re getting better just throwing the ball down the field more,” Harris told the team’s official website. “We’re definitely trying to work on throwing the ball down the field, throwing more deep passes. And (we need to get) the run game going. That’s one of the key elements in our offense. We got it going later on in the season. We’ve just got to continue that momentum and keep carrying it in the beginning of this season.”
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Improving the running game is obvious. New York averaged a middling 100.6 yards per game in 2015.
Adding a deep-ball attack is a more interesting examination.
The Giants led the NFL in completions between 6-10 yards last season, with 150, per the team. However, on passes 11-20 yards, Manning completed just 85, good for 25th in the NFL.
Outside of Beckham, the Giants didn’t possess a deep threat last season. And with OBJ consistently double covered, most of his big plays came on runs after the catch, not long bombs. Harris could be a solution in 2016, but his route running has been suspect throughout his career, and making a leap in Year 6 is difficult to fathom.
Personnel aside, coach Ben McAdoo’s offense just doesn’t function in bombs-away mode. Unlike previous play caller, Kevin Gilbride, McAdoo’s offense relies on a quick passing attack to get the ball out of Manning’s hands swiftly. McAdoo favors high-percentage timing routes over deep gambles — this attack adds the benefit of aiding a weak offensive line by getting the ball out quick. Engineering a more efficient Manning was a reason McAdoo was hired three seasons ago — and part of the reason he was promoted to head coach this year.
While the Giants could certainly use a boost in their deep passing game, don’t expect huge strides in that area in 2016.
Josh Brown’s 23-yard field goal as time expired lifted the New York Giants to a 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints in a surprisingly low-scoring affair at MetLife Stadium..
1. Victor Cruz has made a huge impact on both Giants wins to start the season. The veteran wideout came down with a 50/50 ball from Eli Manning with less than two minutes to play, a 34-yard gain that set up the game-winning field goal by Josh Brown as time expired. Cruz is more than just a feel-good story — he remains a weapon in this offense. Consider him an early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year.
2. The Giants were humiliated by Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense in a 52-49 loss last season. Big Blue got even here. The Saints were held to 288 yards of total offense and Brees managed just one touchdown pass after throwing seven against New York in their 2015 shootout. The Giants invested a ton of money in their defense in the offseason and early returns are very promising. Beating the Saints on a day when your offense commits three turnovers and doesn’t score a touchdown is quite a feat.
3. Sterling Shepard is another playmaker in the Giants’ loaded wide receiver group. The rookie second-round pick was targeted eight times and finished with eight receptions for 117 yards, both game-highs. Teaming Sheppard with a healthy Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. means bad news for NFC East secondaries.
4. The Saints want Coby Fleener involved in their offense, it just hasn’t happened yet. The tight end was targeted eight times by Drew Brees but finished with just two catches for 27 yards. Fleener was open on a couple plays, but his chemistry with Brees isn’t there yet.
5. Saints cornerback P.J. Williams was carted off the field at MetLife Stadium and taken to the hospital after suffering a head injury in the second quarter. The cornerback’s agent told ESPN that Williams is alert and has feeling in his extremities. Williams started as New Orleans’ No. 1 cornerback after the Saints lost Delvin Breaux to a leg injury with cheap NFL jerseys in Week 1.
6. The Giants lost this game about eight times last season.
“Like I said, our faith is trusting coach (Joe) Barry, coach Perry Fewell. That’s why the guys brought me here,” Norman said. “Faith in me to do my job and not question one thing in the game plan.”
Apparently Cruz and the Giants didn’t see those comments. Or they just didn’t believe them.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins jersey chimed in on the issue after Cruz, throwing his shade on the Redskins cornerback for not taking over the Brown situation on Monday Night Football.
“I think when you’re paying somebody $70 mil, there shouldn’t be no game plan,” Jenkins said. “The game plan should be: You’re on this guy. That’s what it is.”
The Giants don’t believe Norman and the Redskins will make the same call to wholesale NFL jerseys when the Redskins travel to New York in Week 3. They fully expect Norman to man up on Beckham then.
“I’d be a little surprised, yeah, given the circumstances, if he doesn’t follow Odell around the field I’d be a little surprised, to be honest,” Cruz said.