New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride takes a lot of heat for a guy who has two Super Bowl rings. As much as we all cringe at the shotgun draw calls on third and 15, Gilbride has developed a strong relationship with quarterback Eli Manning. Furthermore, he's designed an offense suited for today's high octane, pass happy NFL in which strong armed quarterbacks are expected to make big plays down the field to talented wide receivers. There were flaws in the execution of the system in 2012, but the Giants have won two Lombardi Trophy's with Gilbride calling the plays, and it's unlikely that is going to change anytime soon.
Just like any other NFL team, there are going to be changes coming this offseason. The Giants are not going to radically change their offensive personnel, but the coaching staff must carefully examine the strategy employed throughout the 2013 season. With a healthy Hakeem Nicks and a more experienced David Wilson, the Giants should get better next season. It's just a matter of finding the correct methods in which to utilize the immense talent on the offensive side of the football.
Let's take a look at a few things we should all hope to see in 2013.
Another Athletic Tight End Opposite Martellus Bennett
First and foremost, the Giants absolutely must re-sign Martellus Bennet. He's an effective run blocker and nightmare for linebackers in coverage. With another year in the system, he can make leaps and bounds in terms of increased production in 2013.
Bear Pascoe may have an incredible name and he's a serviceable blocker, but he's not capable of running a seam route and catching balls consistently over the middle of the field. His presence on the field usually tips off the defense that the ball is staying on the ground, and he's relatively useless in the passing game. Pascoe only caught four passes this season.
For the Giants to have a truly versatile offense, it's imperative that they are able to lineup in two tight end sets and pass the football effectively. We've seen the New England Patriots use Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez effectively in two tight end sets recently and it's infinitely diversified their offensive scheme.
Obviously, the Giants are not going to be able to acquire a player as effective as Gronkowski or Hernandez, but finding another viable receiving threat that can also run block would open up the field for Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Fred Davis, Jared Cook, Dustin Keller and Delanie Walker will all be free agents this offseason, while the draft will feature the likes of Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) and Zach Ertz (Stanford). If the salary cap allows for it, the Giants should look to find another tight end.
Run More No Huddle and Play Action Passes
Playing offense in the NFL is all about rhythm and timing, which were a notably absent characteristics in the Giants offense during the stretch run of the 2012 season. One easy, yet effective way to establish rhythm and timing is by running a no huddle offense. In fact, the Patriots, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers each ran at least 25 percent of their offensive snaps without a huddle this season. Coincidentally, all three of those teams are still playing football right now.
Not every team can run a no huddle offense effectively. It takes an elite, experienced quarterback to organize the players around him and make sure that everyone is aware of the ensuing play call. By not huddling, the Giants would give the opposing defense less time to substitute, less time to rest and less time to read their formation and get a handle on what play may come next.
Play action passes were also eliminated from the Giants offense this season. It's something the team has done effectively in the past, but for some reason it was ditched this season. A common myth regarding play action passes is that a team must have an effective rushing attack to make it work. That's not true. As long as the quarterback makes a legitimate effort to imitate a handoff, the defense will respect it for a split second. In the NFL, that's the difference between scoring a touchdown and throwing an interception.
No More Run, Run, Pass
The Giants were actually the league's 11th ranked third down offense in 2012, as they converted nearly 41 percent of those opportunities. However, digging a little deeper, Big Blue was ranked 21st in the NFL in third down offense while on the road, converting just on 36 percent of their third down into first downs. Part of the reason is obviously crowd noise, but the play calling was an issue as well.
In an effort to settle down the offense and provide a semblance of stability, Kevin Gilbride was very conservative with the Giants play calling while on the road this season. In Week 13 against the Washington Redskins, the Giants missed on two big play opportunities to Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz early in the game, but it was clear that the receivers were open and the opportunities were there. However, as the game progressed and the tension grew, Gilbride became painfully conservative with the play calling. Screens, shot gun draws and slant routes became commonplace, while the big plays that the Giants offense thrives off of were non-existent.
The Giants have an incredible amount of talent on offense, but the scheme and play calling were inhibiting at times in 2012. The Giants have some self-scouting to do and some problems to solve this offseason, but with a few tweaks, this offense can get back to being the productive unit we saw throughout 2011.
Also…Bear Pascoe, David Wilson, Denver Broncos, Eli Manning, Football, Green Bay, Hakeem Nicks, Kevin Gilbride, Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Victor Cruz
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