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New York Giants’ Offensive Strategy Must Be Revamped in 2013

January 8th, 2013 at 5:59 PM
By Paul Tierney

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.

'Coming out of the Locker Room' photo (c) 2007, Alexa - license:

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.


Tags: 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

33 Responses to “New York Giants’ Offensive Strategy Must Be Revamped in 2013”

  1.  GmenMania says:

    Good article. I agree with the last two points, but I think that tight end is the least of our worries (provided we resign Bennett). If Randle plays anything close to how he played versus the Eagles next season, then we will have three very good receivers and Bennett. We don’t need a fifth target. Considering the amount of cap space we are likely to have (not all that much), a second tight end should be at the bottom of the priority list.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      I think it’s key because it’s incredibly hard to matchup with. For the first time in a while, teams would lineup against the Giants with no clue whether they are going to run or pass. I think Delanie Walker would be an affordable addition and clear upgrade over Pascoe.

      •  G-MenFan says:

        Agree 100%. I’m a big proponent of this idea and have been for a while. With a QB like Eli, you put fear and uncertainty into the defense when you’re alignment and personnel represent multiple threats. You utilize the TEs in three different ways: block at the line, block at the second level, routes/passes. Eli can take more snaps under center and utilize play action and more 7 step drops.

  2.  GmenMania says:


    GmenMania says:
    January 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM
    I saw some people talking about the Alec Ogletree, the Georgia ILB. I think he would be a fantastic fit for our team. He’s a little undersized (237, I believe), but hits like a ton of bricks. What he has that Te’o doesn’t is the game-changing speed. Te’o has incredible instincts, and I like him a lot, but I like Ogletree more. Ogletree is just much faster, and has good instincts as well. He’s also pretty good in coverage. Would LOVE if we could get him at 19.

  3.  sonnymooks says:

    Regarding adding a second athletic tight end, we already did that. Adrien Robinson, he basically red shirted this year, but with another off season under his belt, he should see the field this season, Mike Pope has certainly worked with him enough.

    I’m not a big no huddle fan, but regardless, nothing wrong with using it a bit more as a change up, but we do, absolutely do, need more play action fakes, we basically dumped it from our playbooks this year (but kept that stupid pre-punt draw play), and we didn’t really use it in games where our running game was clicking.

    I have no problem with conservative playcalling, I honestly don’t, I have a problem with predictable and ineffective playcalling. Playcalling is all about timing, about calling the right plays at the right time, and this year, the playcalling was terrible. It was predictable, it was ineffective, and it was stubborn, with a dogged refusal to adjust in game regardless of circumstances. If the giants threw an incomplete pass on 1st and 10, you could bet your house they would run the ball on 2nd and 10, stuff like that. They need to learn the difference between balance and random, because as of right now, they are way to predictable and stubborn.

    I would like to see more incorporating of the fullback into game plans, either for running the ball or pass catching, and in the draft, the giants should consider going for a 4 tool all around fullback, someone who can pass block and catch passes, run block and run the ball. My perfect Fullback was Mike Alscott, and I’d love to see someone like that, that can diversify the running game and diversify the offense as a whole.

    •  GmenMania says:

      We don’t need a FB. Hynoski has been great the past couple of years.

      •  Paul Tierney says:

        The Giants do not make their bones off of conservative play calling. For the most part, the offense was stagnant this season unless Eli connected with someone for a big play.

    •  clever username says:

      we have a top 5 FB who’s only been in the league a few years. they are a dying breed, and we already have one who plays at an “elite” level. i agree that i’d like to see him a little more incorporated in the run game just to keep defenses guessing, but we definitely don’t need someone else.

  4.  GmenMania says:

    Cowboys fired Rob Ryan.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      Hopefully Rex hires him and the Jets become a full blown circus.

      •  GmenMania says:

        They already promoted the secondary coach, Dennis Thurman, to be their defensive coordinator.

        •  Paul Tierney says:

          If Rex wants his brother on his staff, he’ll find a way.

        •  Levito says:

          If they fired or demoted Thurman to hire Rob, nobody would be surprised. It would be one of the less surprising things that organization has done in the past 2 years.

      •  G-MenFan says:

        Jets are already a full blown circus. They can’t even find an experienced competent GM that wants the job with Rex as coach. They’ll end up pulling some kid off of his paper route to be GM in name only while Rex botches the draft again and has no one to blame but his wife.

  5.  Levito says:

    Good article Paul. I agree about play action, but they have to get the running game working in order for play action to be effective.

    And I 100% agree about no huddle. I posted a graphic on here a few weeks ago showing that the Giants were bottom 3 in the league (if I remember correctly) in plays run in no-huddle. And it’s not just that as much as they don’t vary the pace of the offense EVER. Same pace 100% of the time, and the ball is snapped with less than 5 seconds on the play-clock probably 90%+ of the time.

    But it will never happen. Kevin Gilbride invented the chuck and duck offense and he’s the best in the business, right? Why would the best OC in the business have to change anything?

    •  Dirt says:

      Killdrive (actually Coughlin I believe, based on comments I’ve heard from him) will never run no huddle. Coughlin is the only coach I’ve ever seen sprint out on the field with 1:50 on the clock to call time out, with the ball on the 40. He hates pace. And he also automatically connects no huddle with hurry up, which are clearly two different things.

      I also think that one of the reasons the offense struggles at times (and Eli throws a high amount of picks for a vet) is that defenses KNOW the following:
      - That they will substitute every play, giving the defense an opportunity to substitute and take time to think about the Giants personnel, down, distance and game situation
      - That they will send a guy in motion no matter what
      - That they will often pull the wide receiver in based on certain coverage
      - That they will snap the ball at 5 seconds
      - That they will never quick snap based on personnel or coverage

      Therefore, defenses are disguising their coverages pretty well, not showing their hand until late in the playclock, and at times fooling Eli and/or receivers.

      Thus, they should incorporate more no huddle or some specific non-option routes.

      Of course they won’t, though.

      •  Begiant says:

        However one could argue that non of that matters. If there are truly so many WR checks and options on their routes than no matter what tthey are doing the guys in single man coverage should always have an opportunity to beat his man (because the corner can’t be in position) and if there is zone the receiver should be able to find a hole.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      If you watch film on play action passes, the front seven almost always respects it for a split second, no matter who is in the game. Obviously, it works more effectively for teams with staunch rushing attacks. However, just because Adrian Peterson is not in the Giants backfield doesn’t mean we should utilize more play action passes. The Giants have been successful with it before and it needs to be reintegrated into the offense next season.

  6.  Begiant says:

    Rob Ryan would never join Rex. Rex Ryan is a tremendous defensive coach and I believe led the Revisless jets to 11th in Defense. That is very impressive

  7.  Eric S says:

    The Giants need to resign Bennett. Assuming they do I just can’t see them going for anybody you mention, nor do I think they need to. They drafted Robinson in the 4th round and JR called him the JPP of TE’s. Eifert and Ertz both have late 1st round early 2nd round grades. Teams are always looking to replicate the Pats duo or trying to find a Jimmy Graham. I highly doubt these Giants spend a 2nd rounder let alone a 1st on a position like TE. Fred Davis? Really? Previously suspended for drugs and blew out his achilles this year. Also not a very good blocker which means he’ll ride pine in this offense. No thanks. Delanie Walker? He’s 6′ 242 lbs. He’s not a great blocker, basically he’s an H-Back, see Beckum, Travis for how well we utilize guys like that. Also he turns 29 in August. No thanks. Jared Cook? My buddy is a Titans fan and had this to say…Great athlete, who loses focus too often. Bit of a headcase, demanded a trade midseason because he was unhappy about playing time. Said he isn’t a great blocker and his effort in that area in particular has been questioned. Doesn’t seem like a guy we’d go out and get nor does he sound like a guy I’d want.

    I have no faith that Gilbride will incorporate 2 TE sets featuring Bennett/Robinson as dual threats. It just doesn’t seem to be in his DNA. He also thinks he’s the greatest. The confidence is nice but I think it closes his mind to incorporating different things like the Pats do. That also closes his mind to running more no huddle and it doesn’t seem like Coughlin cares for it either.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      Historically, the Giants usually draft the best player available. If it comes down to it and one of those tight ends has the best grade of any player available on the draft board, they will take him.

      As for the free agents, it’s not like we would have a big budget in which to go after these guys. You are going to be able to poke holes in each one of them, it’s just a matter of who has the most upside. Word out of Dallas was that Bennett was a head case, he came to NY and performed well last season. I think Cook would excell in our offense, I’m not sure we can afford him though.

      •  Eric S says:

        Highly unlikely that either of those TE’s are the best players on the board at 19. The Giants just don’t place a that high a value on that position. I think it’s overly simplistic to say that the Giants simply take the BPA. Reese has gone on record as saying that they strongly considered Randle at the end of round 1 which means they graded him just as high as Wilson. So what was the deciding factor? Need. We needed a young stud back with Jacobs gone and Bradshaw always hurt.

        As for upside…what is the upside of Walker? He’ll be 29, he’s undersized for a TE, heck he’s smaller than our FB. The coaches had a hard time figuring out how to use Beckum so I’m not sure how Walker makes any sense. Fred Davis is coming off a torn achillies, not sure what the upside is with that. Jared Cook doesn’t block well. You follow the Giants, does that seem like the kind of guy that will get playing time under Coughlin? Particularly if we retain Bennett? You also seem to have completely dismissed Adrien Robinson. Reese was high on him and he sat through the typical red shirt year most Giants rookies experience. The Giants have made no secret that they expect their TE’s to be blockers first. With the exception of Beckum whom they never utilized look at the size of the TE’s they prefer. Robinson is the smallest at 6’4″ and 264 lbs.

        •  Paul Tierney says:

          First off, it’s more likely that Wilson was just rated higher than Randle. Just because they considered Randle in no way indicates that they valued him as high as Wilson. Need obviously plays a factor, but more times than not they just take the best player. That’s a documented fact (JPP in 2010, Prince in 2011).

          I’m not dismissing Robinson. He’s athletic and if he learn’s the system he can be a much better player than most of the players I mentioned. I just don’t see him having a bigger impact than a guy like Bear Pascoe next season, especially after seeing zero time in 2012. He’s a project at this point.

          As for Walker, he’s a better run blocker than Beckum and he caught 21 balls and three touchdowns this season. He’s marginally sized and would need to improve his run blocking to get on the field, but for the money the Giants should be willing to spend on a No.2 TE he’s not a bad fit. Jared Cook would be my ideal pick though.

          •  Eric S says:

            The fact that the Giants said they strongly considered Randle at 32 and had a first round grade for him does indicate that they had placed a similar grade/value on him as they did Wilson. What the deciding factors were that had them lean towards Wilson, we’ll probably never really know. But the difference doesn’t seem to be as great as you imply.

            You never mention Robinson in your post and the fact that you think he’ll have less of an impact then Pascoe next season certainly seems to be dismissive. I don’t know what your fascination is with Walker. He’s a terrible fit for the Giants as he’s undersized and not a good blocker, two major no-no’s for TE’s on our team.

      •  Hanshi says:

        It is a myth that the Giants draft the best player available.They draft the best player available at a position of need. Go back and look at the drafts. In 2007 we needed a corner and we drafted Aaron Ross, in 2008 we needed a Safety and we drafted KP, in 2009 we needed a WR and we dradfted Hakeem Nicks, in 2010 we thought we needed a LB but Jerry Reese knew we needed a pass rusher and he drafted JPP, in 2011 we needed a corner and we drafted Prince, in 2012 we needed a RB and we drafted Flip Wilson.

        •  Paul Tierney says:

          We needed a corner in 2011? We already had Webster and Thomas on the roster. In 2010, we had Tuck and Osi on the roster. Last season I personally thought we needed an offensive linemen, but JR went with Wilson because that’s who he thought the best player was. They even considered drafting Rueben Randle in the first-round because they had such a high grade on him. Obviously need plays a part, it’s not like we are going to draft quarterbacks in the first round or anything, but it’s a fact that this team drafts the best player, not necessarily based upon need.

          •  Paul Tierney says:

            Here’s a TC quote after they drafted Prince:

            Even though the Giants have Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross at cornerback, they went for the best player available on their board, with Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo among those available at No. 19.

            “There was Prince,” head coach Tom Coughlin said of Amukamara’s dropping to No. 19. “And he was clearly the highest-rated player on the board.”

            •  Eric S says:

              Again I think it’s overly simplistic to simply say BPA. I think the Giants group players together. So these guys are top 10 in whatever round, these guys are in the middle of whatever round and then the bottom 3rd of whatever round. Then they weigh the value of the position and the needs on the roster now and in the near future. That’s my feeling. Prince was a unique case. He was rated as a top 10 pick, the 2nd best corner( a premium position) in the draft. Nobody including the Giants foresaw him dropping like he did so when he fell to them it would have been foolish to pass on a top 10 talent at pick 19.

              At the time Thomas was an ascending corner entering a contract year, having already shelled out big money for Webster there’s no guarantee they could’ve retained Thomas if he continued to play well. Ross was also entering the final year of his deal and given his injury history, up and down play and the fact that he was now 3rd on the depth chart adding a premium athlete at a critical position actually made sense. As for Tuck and Osi and JPP well First and foremost the mantra of never having enough pass rushers is the Giants way. Additionally, Osi’s annual contract fit was at a fevered pitch at the time. I’m sure the Giants had a group of guys lumped in with JPP but it was a position they place high value on and the Osi saga had the potential for spilling over into a regular season holdout. Kiwi was also entering the final year of his deal when they drafted JPP and had split his time between SLB and DE.

  8.  Hanshi says:

    Report: RGIII to have total reconstruction done to knee
    The news regarding Robert Griffin III’s injured knee has gone from bad to worse.

    •  Krow says:

      He’ll never be the player he was after this. The Rams look like geniuses right now.

      •  TroyThorne says:

        Meh, I don’t agree with that. With the advances in medical science over the past decade or so, knee injuries aren’t the death sentence they used to be. Plenty of guys have come back and performed just fine after tearing ligaments in their knee and the expected recovery time is only 6-8 months. My guess is he’ll be fine towards the end of next season assuming he doesn’t suffer some other injury.

  9.  Manningcamp says:

    The Giants run an Eli Manning offense; he makes the calls from the multi-play options he get’s from Gilbride. Eli audibles or fakes audibles about as often as his brother. It is Eli who is most inclined to choose pass over run in any down and distance,. It is Eli who decides when they will use play action which he doesn’t often because he see little advantage to it except in a few situations. He doesn’t see it as having much of anything to do with keeping him among the least sacked/ pressured QBs in the NFL.

    That applies also to the use of the No Huddle, or lack thereof. Everytime that subject has been broached with Eli he has been dismissive of it Every time he has been given an example of the success the Giants had with it, he will mention specific instances when they didn’t have success, or mention their many successes in the regular offense. By the way, No Huddle has little if anything to do with rhythm and timing.
    By calling the play at the LOS without a huddle, it makes it risky for the defense to try to substitute personnel, but plays aren’t necessarily run any faster-unless you are interchanging No Huddle and Hurry Up. When Eli has been asked about such things, he answers, “It is always a matter of execution, guys doing their assignments and making plays,” or something very similar.

    What does most notably reflect Gilbride’s role in the Giants offense is the “read option” of the receivers in adjusting pass patterns based on the defensive coverage, Call it streak read, seam read and go, whatever, it is as Amani Toomer described it in praising Gilbride.
    “I think he’s great. Some of the stuff that he runs, the plays, the concepts that he came up with — it’s really unstoppable. The problem is that you have to have a group of receivers that really not only understand what he’s trying to do, but really can read defenses well. If they don’t understand what’s going on and they can’t read what’s going on really well then it looks disheveled. This young group of receivers, they have a thirst for knowledge and that thirst is what’s making them a lot better because they understand what’s going on. If you have guys that understand the system it’s unstoppable.”

    It certainly seems that Cruz and Nick understand it, and Randle seemed to be working it nicely. And Murphy and Myers could turn it into a feast.

    Not having a healthy Nick did hamper the passing game, but last year’s inconsistencies on offense were mostly due to Eli’s inconsistencies which we have seen before. It would seemly only fair to question Eli’s performance when it’s not as good as it should be given the praise he gets when it’s even better.

    I wouldn’t bother to suggest that Gilbride be given credit for his great contribution to the team in his six year as its OC. I realize that cognitive bias has become a fact resistent plague among the less thoughtful fans.

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