New York Giants: danny langsdorf

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's easy to say, after the worst season of his career, that New York Giants Eli Manning could stand to be "fixed," and that new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf are charged with that assignment. The Giants would dispute that, saying that the new offense and the coaches that come with it are here to "energize" Manning and tap into his natural excitement about learning new things.

All of that said, some things about the way Manning has played his entire career will have to change in this new offense, and the most significant may be his footwork.

"I think it's more kind of the footwork based on the route, and whether you're under center or in shotgun, just how it changes," Manning said. "There's more shotgun footwork and mechanics and kind of listening to your feet. You're going to take this type of drop out of the gun, and if it's not open on that first step you've got to listen to your feet, get through your progression so when you have to scramble you're in a good position.

"Some of those things are taught differently than what we've done in the past. I like it. I think it makes sense. You can rely on it, but it's not only remembering the play and the protection but also remembering, 'Do I take a step with my right foot first or my left foot?' Those things have to become second-nature."

Learning all of the details and minutiae of what the new offense asks him to do has been Manning's focus since his ankle healed from surgery and he was able to get on the field and practice in May. McAdoo's offense will demand that Manning get to the line of scrimmage more quickly, get the play off more quickly and work to dictate tempo to the defense. Part of the way that happens is that the footwork on the drops are in perfect sync with the routes and the play that's been called.

"We want our footwork to match what's going on downfield," Langsdorf said. "If our footwork is correct, it's telling you, 'Okay, it's time to throw the ball.' We want to trust our feet and know that it's time to either get rid of it or get out of there. We don't want him standing back there holding the ball, taking sacks. We want him to take his drop and make sure his feet are telling him it's time to do something."

The idea of asking a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback to change something as fundamental as his footwork in his 11th season in the league sounds daunting. But after a 27-interception, 18-touchdown season, Manning is open to change. And Langsdorf doesn't think it's all that cataclysmic anyway.

"Part of it is having an understanding and being comfortable with where to go with the ball," Langsdorf said. "He's got a receiver in progression when we're going to the first read, and in progression to the second, to the third, and his feet are telling him which time to move on. So there's some transition from what he's done in the past, but everybody has some sense of timing in their offense. It's just a matter of matching it philosophy-wise with what we're doing."

The timing is still a ways from being perfect, and a lot of that has to do with practice time. The Giants remain six days away from their first preseason game and six weeks away from their first real game. So there's time to get it all figured out. But get the footwork figured out and they will, because it's fundamental to the West Coast-style offense they're now committed to running.

"The very basis of this scheme is having your feet in position to make a play at the right time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's something this offense has relied upon since Bill Walsh."

New for Manning and the Giants, but Manning's hardly the first to have to learn it. The Giants have every expectation that he will, and that the results will show up in his play.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Look, I'm not saying he can and I'm not saying he can't. I have nothing but respect for Eli Manning's abilities and the things he can do. He can beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, and if you didn't believe that after the first time, he did it again for good measure. The New York Giants' quarterback is largely underrated and underappreciated, and he's perfectly capable of having a great season even though he's coming off his worst season.

However.

If Manning completes 70 percent of his passes this year in Ben McAdoo's new offense, as quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf said Monday he'd challenged Manning to do, then McAdoo, Langsdorf and anyone else who had a hand in it should have their choice of NFL head-coaching jobs next January. And they can ride unicorns with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to the interviews.

Start with the very short list of quarterbacks who've ever hit that number in a full NFL season. It's basically Drew Brees (twice, in 2009 and 2011), Joe Montana (1989) and Steve Young (1994). Langsdorf said the list he gave Manning also included Sammy Baugh, Ken Anderson and Alex Smith. But Baugh played only eight games in the 1945 season in which he hit the mark (the league played a 10-game season that year). Anderson's 1982 season was only nine games long due to a players strike. And Smith put up his 70.2 mark in 10 games in 2012 before losing his job to Colin Kaepernick.

So if Manning is to hit this goal over a full season, he'll be doing something only three other players -- two of whom are in the Hall of Fame, and one of whom surely will be -- have done. The fact that it's a nearly impossible achievement is the first and best reason to doubt it. Manning's career completion percentage is 58.5, and his career high for a single season is 62.9, set in 2010. He would have had to complete an additional 69 passes in 2013 to get to 70 percent from the dismal 57.5 at which he finished. That's 4.3 more completions per game. Even in 2010, he would have needed 39 more completions, or 2.4 per game. May not sound like a lot, but it is when you think about what it means.

Secondly, as much as we've written about the Giants' new offensive scheme, there are still legitimate concerns about whether they have the personnel to run it effectively. The offensive line isn't set yet. Their wide receiver group is littered with question marks after Victor Cruz. They do not have a reliable pass-catching tight end on the roster. And as much as they want to stress high-percentage plays and completion percentage, it's tough to imagine they'll throw to the running backs all season.

Which kind of leads me to my final point: Eli Manning, risk-taker. Manning's calling card as a quarterback has always been, to me, his fearlessness. He has the confidence to try any throw, no matter how risky, because (a) he believes he can make it, and (b) he has an uncommon ability to put mistakes behind him and not let them affect his performance as the game goes along.

It's inconceivable to think that McAdoo and Langsdorf could change this about Manning even if they wanted to, and it's inconceivable to believe they would want to. Manning's ability to deliver an uncanny throw in a huge spot is one of the few things you can point to right now in this Giants offense that might have a chance to set it apart from others in the league. Their challenge is to install an offense that's more efficient and less turnover-prone while still making use of what Manning does best. So there's still going to be plenty of downfield stuff, and that stuff will come with more risk.

Now, OK. I understand about coaching and motivation. If Langsdorf sets a goal of 70 percent and Manning aims for it but falls 5 percent short, he'd still obliterate his career high and improve on last year by 7.5 percent. The Giants would surely take that. But hearing Langsdorf say this Monday brought home the ideas of (a) how much different this offense is going to be than it has been for the past decade, and (b) how hard it's going to be for the Giants to be proficient in their new offense in its first season.

Giants announce their coaching staff

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
12:35
PM ET
The New York Giants on Monday officially announced the hiring of Oregon State offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf as their quarterbacks coach, a move that was widely reported at the end of last week and completes their coaching staff. They also announced that Sean Ryan, who had been their quarterbacks coach, will now be the wide receivers coach, and that Kevin M. Gilbride, who had been the wide receivers coach, will coach tight ends.

The shuffling completes a process of change that was set in motion when Kevin Gilbride (father of the aforementioned) resigned as offensive coordinator following the season and was replaced by Ben McAdoo. Shortly after McAdoo was hired, the Giants let go of longtime tight ends coach Mike Pope and running backs coach Jerald Ingram. Craig Johnson, who had been the Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks coach, was hired to replace Ingram as Giants running backs coach.

So that sets the new offensive coaching staff, with line coach Pat Flaherty, assistant line coach Lunda Wells and offensive assistant Ryan Roeder the only ones who will return in 2014 in the same roles they filled in 2013.

One bizarre and coincidental note here: Langsdorf once donated a kidney to Laurie Cavanaugh, who is the sister of the older Kevin Gilbride. Cavanugh's husband, Mike, was on the coaching staff at Oregon State with Langsdorf at the time, seven years ago. Small world.

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