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Time to Bring It to '12' - A Look At What NYG Need to Do Post-Cruz.

With a devastating injury to possibly their best player, what should the Giants be doing to maximize their offensive success?

Rich Schultz

If the New York Giants were to look at the silver lining from the game against the Philadelphia Eagles (and really, there are none, I'm just stretching this), it would be that their weaknesses were exposed in a big way. Why is that a good thing? Well, if you know what your weaknesses are, you can theoretically start to fix them.

The biggest weakness for the Giants has been two fold - the first problem is the offensive line. The second problem is the offensive line. If I had to say there was a third problem, yeah, it's the offensive line. There seems to be a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing going on with them. They have been truly and utterly dominant in the three wins, and they have been truly and utterly pathetic in two out of the three losses (they were simply mediocre versus the Arizona Cardinals). I don't know how much competition levels factor in here, nobody will convince me that the Washington Redskins don't have a good pass rush. Look at J.J. Watt and the wreckage he's created to other offensive lines, outside of two plays, he was shut down by the Giants.

Enough of that however. The problem here is that now Victor Cruz is gone and as a safety blanket that Eli Manning loved to target on 3rd downs, there will now be more stress on Manning and the offensive line. There's no real way to "replace" a player of that caliber, but the right schemes and formations can at least set you on the right track. So let's talk about it. The Giants need to play more in the '12' personnel formation.

What is the 12 personnel?

It's a pretty simple concept, actually. The first number refers to how many running backs on the field, while the second number refers to the amount of tight ends. So a 12 personnel grouping refers a 1 RB, 2 TE set. The Giants, in previous games, ran primarily an 11 personnel grouping, which is 1 RB, 1 TE (and hence, 3 WRs). That makes sense, given that your best receivers are Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, and Rueben Randle. They played about 60 or so odd snaps in the '11' personnel grouping against the Eagles.

Why change to the 12?

Take a look at the formation, and you can see the advantages already:

This is the formation that was made famous by the New England Patriots when they had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as a 1-2 punch.

Provides support for offensive linemen.

Look at where the TEs are lined up. Lined up on either side of the tackles puts them in perfect position to chip the attacking defensive end or linebacker. Watching the game on Sunday night, I would be hard pressed to note a time that Larry Donnell ever got a chip on Connor Barwin to help out Justin Pugh. This is especially effective on speed rushers, as a good chip can knock them off their timing. I saw, on at least two different occasions, where Zach Ertz ran into Mathias Kiwanuka and then proceeded to run his route. It was effective to say the least.

Puts the best offensive players on the field

Aside from the pining for Corey Washington (which I myself am prone to), anybody really going to refute that the four best pass catchers for the Giants are Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, and Daniel Fells? Preston Parker has been decent enough in his chances to warrant playing time, but Fells provides a stronger blocking presence and better reliability at this point where Manning is dangerously low on reliable receivers.

Provides big targets over the middle of the field

In between the hashmarks is the most dangerous territory for a QB simply because there's so much going on. You've got roving safeties, backpedaling linebackers, and it is the junction for a lot of criss-crossing receivers and corners. Ideally, a big receiver roaming this area is preferable, especially for a guy like Eli Manning who overthrows his guys more often than underthrowing them. A two tight end set provides two big guys (Fells is 6-foot-4, Donnell is 6-foot-6) for Eli to throw to.

Hides the playcall

You can hide a lot of plays with this grouping. The Giants have two tight ends that are legitimate threats (if not in the deep passing game, at least as security blanket types) to catch the ball. While they aren't exactly burners, I'm not sure the Giants offense at this point should be even considering that in the first place. This also provides the Giants with better run blockers on the edges than a Victor Cruz or Preston Parker could provide. This is important.

You could have the exact same formation for four plays in a row. The first could be a running play, the second could be a passing play where all four receivers go run routes for the ball, the third could have one guy run a route and the other stay in pass protection. The fourth play could have one tight end pulling to other side or in motion as a lead blocker for a run. The possibilities are there and it makes it damned difficult for the defense to get a good pre-snap read.

Final Word

The Giants are hurting, and they are hurting badly. The offensive line just got crushed and they lost their best player on offense. This is the type of situation that will make Ben McAdoo and Tom Coughlin their money. How can you adjust? How can you adapt?

I firmly believe that this team has the weapons and talent to succeed. It's just a matter of adjusting to your personnel. McAdoo did it in the early going, and he's made me a happy camper so far (outside of this obvious Eagles game), but this is his first real big test. I'm anxious to see if he can get it done.