After being labeled as too predictable, too vanilla and too 11-personnel heavy, the New York Giants are about to unveil some new looks this summer.
That’s right: this year the Giants offense has some options, and it’s all thanks to a massive facelift the unit received—the addition of receiver Brandon Marshall and tight ends Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram, and the revamping of the running backs group which will now have Paul Perkins as its starter.
“I think that the personnel groupings are at a point right now where we can have more multiplicity,” said offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“We were at a high percentage of the Zebra personnel—11-personnel, with 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end and 1 back, as people call it. With those additional tight ends and with having a couple of fullbacks that we’re taking a look at, just to have those different groupings gives the defense more to prepare for and in terms of trying to do things that will give us that balance that we want.”
Last season due in part to injuries and due in part to performance, head coach Ben McAdoo, who retained the play-calling duties from his days as the team’s offensive coordinator, seemed to stick with 11-personnel on more than 90 percent of the team’s offensive plays.
NFL rankings aside—the Giants dropped from the top third or half of the league in several major statistical categories from 2015 to 2016—one alarming statistic that stood out was that the Giants passed the ball 200 more times than they ran it.
When they rushed the ball, their total yardage combined was only 45 yards more than what receiver Odell Beckham Jr. racked up all by his lonesome.
With teams realizing they could hone in on Beckham to shut down the Giants offense, it made things a lot easier.
The Giants finished 2017 with 300 or less net yards in six of their 16 games, going 4-2 in those contests, but with a margin of victory in those four games averaging 8.2 points per game.
McAdoo and Sullivan, who plan to continue experimenting with different looks hope that the new skill players combined with an improved offensive line and better play from veteran quarterback Eli Manning will yield the production the team was missing last year.
As a bonus, the team is hoping that the Manning-to-Beckham connection, in which success rate on completed passes between the two dipped last year, picks up in 2017.
“I think it goes back a bit to the question in terms of having some of those other weapons, if you will, that can dictate the coverage and can put him in a position to win those one-on-one battles,” Sullivan said.
“We’re going to mix things up, whether it is the high percentage throws, the high percentage completions. The things that in his case you certainly hope for, it’s a short catch and a long run and then having some of those down the field shots.
“It is just a matter of, I think, just trying to find the types of schemes and the types of concepts that we can have that balance where we can have those high percentage and then also taking some of the shots down the field.”
In short, the possibilities are endless; it’s just a matter of finding the best combinations to create the mismatches favoring the Giants.
“It is exciting with all the additions we have,” Sullivan said. “I’m really, really looking forward to training camp.”