Thursday, July 24, 2014
Giants' offense wants to go fast
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- People keep asking the same question: How will the New York Giants' new offense, under coordinator Ben McAdoo, look different from the old offense they ran for the past decade?
If the Giants get their wish, it's going to look very, very fast.
"We're pushing for 70 or more plays per game," Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan said Thursday.
New Giants coordinator Ben McAdoo is looking to speed up the pace of an offense that was among the slowest in the league last season.
In case you're wondering, that's a lot of plays. Last year's Giants offense -- admittedly, one of the worst in the league -- averaged 61.75 snaps per game. Only five teams averaged fewer. The Denver Broncos' record-setting offense, led by Eli Manning's brother, led the league with an average of 72.25 offensive snaps per game. The only other team over 70 was the New England Patriots at 71.12. Chip Kelly's famously high-octane Philadelphia Eagles offense averaged 65.88 offensive snaps per game, good for 13th in the league. The Green Bay Packers, of whose offensive coaching staff McAdoo was a part, averaged 67.12.
So plenty of questions remain about whether the Giants can learn all of the new schemes in time and whether they have the personnel in place to accomplish such a dizzying goal. But watching them practice, it's easy to see how they're trying to go about it.
"I'm still waiting for them to call up a huddle in practice," Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "The intention of this offense is to cause chaos."
Playing at a faster tempo is a boon because it can allow the offense to dictate the action to the defense. You can make your substitutions because you know what you're planning to run. But racing to the line and not huddling keeps the defense from having enough time to put the players on the field it thinks are best suited to stop what you're running. A faster pace could also help cut down on delay-of-game penalties. The Giants had seven of those last year, tied for the sixth-most in the league.
"We have the capability of running our entire offense through the no-huddle," running back Rashad Jennings said. "It's just a matter of how much we feel we need to use it per game, or how often the offensive coordinator feels we need to run it."
That pace, especially between downs, will put a premium on the ability of the players to communicate with each other and make sure they're all seeing the defense the same way.
"We have many ways to communicate," Jennings said. "Some of it is verbal, some of it is hand signals and things of that nature. And just being a student of the game, you understand down and distance and what you want to accomplish, and so it becomes second nature after a while."
The pace will be quick post-snap, too, as much of the offense is likely to operate near the line of scrimmage with a premium on getting the ball in the hands of playmakers and allowing them to do something with it. No longer will the passing game revolve around the deep ball, and on the ability of the wide receivers to choose the same read that Manning chooses from a complex pre-snap menu.
"On a couple of routes, you've got a couple of reads, but that's pretty much it -- about one or two reads," Jernigan said. "Not like the old offense, where we had three or four reads, reading the safeties and the corners and stuff. So it makes you play faster. Make one decision and go. Without a doubt, compared to our old offense, this offense helps you out. A lot simpler, nothing too confusing. Just basically run your route and go get it."
On the flip side, the running game could be more complicated than it used to be. You're going to see a lot more zone and stretch concepts than you've seen in the past, and if everything goes to play, the running game could change drastically from game to game, quarter to quarter or even drive to drive.
"It's different from last year, when we were very downhill-oriented, very iso, that type of thing," fullback Henry Hynoski said. "Don't get me wrong -- we have that in this offense. But there's a lot of outside stuff, a lot of zones, a lot of reading schemes as opposed to downhill. So that's where it changes up a little bit. It's a whole bunch of different things, and it really packs our arsenal with a lot of variety."
When they go to their stretch and zone concepts, the Giants will ask their running backs to dictate the action, making choices about where to make their cuts and when to break upfield. The idea there is, once again, to dictate the pace of the game to the defense.
"We have options every time we touch the ball," Jennings said. "We get to set up the tempo. We set the edge of where we want the defenders to actually hit, how the offensive linemen are blocking ... all of it's moreso in our hands as far as our angles."
The Giants want opposing defenses confused, and tired, and wondering what they're going to do next. It's a lot to take in, and they're still early in the process of learning and practicing it all. It may be the kind of thing that takes time -- and maybe more roster moves next spring -- before they have it down perfectly. But there's a chance it clicks right away and things change immediately for the better. They can't get worse than what the Giants put out there on offense last year.
"If it's anything like we see it on film of where Coach McAdoo has been in the past, and if we can instill some of that in our offense with our personnel, it can be a very high-powered offense," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "We just all have to buy in and understand the playbook, and that starts here in camp."