A Proposed Blueprint to Fix the New York Giants Offensive Woes

It’s no secret that the New York Giants offense isn’t working the way it was meant to be.

Whether that’s because of the scheme, the personnel or a combination of both, it goes without saying that something needs to be addressed to fix a unit that currently ranks 28th overall, 30th in scoring, 32nd in rushing, and 18th in passing and receiving.

Unfortunately, the Calvary isn’t coming. The roster is what it is and any fixes that are made will have to be done internally, be it scheme or personnel changes or a combination of both.

Here’s a look at some steps we would take to fix what ails the offense for this week.

Fix the Offensive Line

The most glaring and obvious issue on the offense is the inconsistent performance of the offensive line. Unfortunately, there probably won’t be any trades for a premium left tackle to save the day.

You can throw all the “what ifs” you want out there about Joe Thomas (who is not on the block) or Duane Brown of Houston (who is said to want guaranteed money and a bigger contract) or Branden Albert (who is retired). None appears to be in the cards.

If the Giants are going to fix the offensive line in the short term, they will have to do so with what they have on the roster. And those options, slim to begin, are now slimmer given the one position they could ill-afford to have an injury, offensive tackle, is where they have an injury (Bobby Hart) that could be a multi-week affair.

For this week, a short work week at that, the Giants will probably stick with the configuration they used for all but two plays Monday night—Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Brett Jones at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, John Jerry at right guard and Justin Pugh at right tackle.

However, here is an outside-the-box configuration we’d consider:  Flowers at left tackle, Jones at left guard, Richburg at center, Pugh at right guard and Jerry at right tackle.

Jerry is a serviceable pass blocker. At his right guard spot this year, PFF has him down for allowing five total pressures in 78 pass block snaps. Last year, he allowed 22 total pressures in 623 pass block snaps.

The drawback? Jerry hasn’t played much offensive tackle in his career—he was last at the position in 2011 for the Dolphins, taking 6 snaps at right tackle and 177 at left tackle. Per information provided by PFF, Jerry yielded 11 pressures in 90 pass-block snaps.

So why move Jerry to tackle? To help the running game.

Jerry isn’t the most athletic lineman out there and the Giants do like to pull their guards on occasion. Pugh is the best of the bunch in this regard, and while he could be asked to pull from tackle, moving him closer inside shaves off a few seconds should they want to execute such a play.

Here is another reason Pugh at right guard would make sense. According to official league stats, the Giants have run 12 plays to the left side (from left guard to left end) and nine to the right.

While the Giants have had success running inside the tackles when they have gone to the left, they haven’t had as much success on the other side, according to league furnished stats.

Left End Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right End Right Tackle Right Guard
Plays 2 4 8 6 3 2 4
Avg. Gain 8.50 2.75 3.63 4.33 0.00 1.50 3.00
NFL Rank 4 20 11 13 26 31 22

(Note: This data reflects the hole that the running play went through, not necessarily who blocked it.)

Obviously, running to the left all the time is not a practical solution because it makes the offense predictable.  But it’s rather clear that the Giants have had better success running to the left, an in particular the left guard hole, then they have running to the right.

Pugh at right guard could be the first step toward helping to balance out running to the right interior with more success.

Get Shane Smith and Rhett Ellison More Involved in the Running Game

One way to get better production running to the right side is to get  tight end Rhett Ellison and fullback Shane Smith more involved in run-blocking.

Smith has played just 12 snaps in two games, six a piece on running and passing downs. If the Giants are going to keep a fullback, then why not use him more to help the interior of the offensive line, especially with run blocking?

Ditto with Ellison, who historically has been a solid run-blocking tight end. Ellison has played 41 snaps in two games, 21 as a run blocker, 14 as a route runner and six as a pass blocker. There’s nothing wrong with sending him out on a route, but would it really alter the expectations if he chipped a defender on passing downs?

Use Shane Vereen More in the Running Game

Shane Vereen is averaging 4.7 yards per carry (6 carries for 28 yards) behind the same offensive line that Paul Perkins is averaging 1.9 yards per carry (14 carries for 26 yards).

Vereen also has 12 receptions for 78 yards (6.5 per reception) with a long catch of 20 yards and is the team’s third down back to boot, making him the most complete running back this team currently has.

Yet for some reason, Vereen has only received six snaps in the running game according to Pro Football Focus. If the Giants are looking to keep teams guessing, why not use your most complete running back more often and keep them guessing what play might be coming?

Adapt the System to What You Have, Not What You Want

During McAdoo’s conference call Tuesday, he was asked  how they balance the growing sense of urgency to do something to jump-start the offense against being patient.

“We are not going to panic,” McAdoo said. “We are not the first good team to start 0-2. When we first got together in April and talked about how we weren’t going to sneak up on anybody this year. We were going to get everybody’s best shot. This is New York.

“We had two prime-time football games versus two pretty good opponents and it’s no excuses, but we’ve got to find a way to get better and we are not going to throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Unfortunately, the bath water and the baby don’t seem to be meshing. Rather than change what they are doing to fit their personnel, McAdoo and staff seem intent on trying to find different personnel combinations to make what they want to do work.

Situations like these are where NFL coaches earn their paycheck. And as McAdoo also said on that same conference call, “”We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. That’s insanity. It’s not working.”

No it’s not working. And while the comfort of 11 personnel and running the Green Bay offense is no doubt tempting, the coaching staff needs to do a better job adapting to what they have on the roster if they want to snap out of this funk.

Let Mike Sullivan Call the Plays

Although McAdoo left the door open for this possibility, it would be a major shock if he follows through with it.

Why? Because when the head coach tells the media that he believes the team is good, that it’s not he first good team to go 0-2, and that they aren’t about to throw the baby out with the bath water, that likely indicates they’re going to try to resolve the problems they’ve had with some personnel tweaks first before they go to more drastic measures like him handing over the play calling duties.

Besides getting a fresh perspective calling the plays, giving up that duty would allow McAdoo better control of his sideline. For example, did anyone buy that it was all Eli Manning’s fault for not calling a timeout when the clock ran down and they took a critical delay of game penalty down by the goal line?

McAdoo, as the game manager and head coach, might have caught that and overruled Manning, who apparently thought he could get the play off, had he not had his face in that menu for the brief moments before the clock expired.