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Not adding up: Biggest issue with Giants’ offense might be too much of the number “11”

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Giants using “11” personnel a disproportionate amount of the time

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo said Monday that the team’s offensive brain trust is “going to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves” during the bye week to see what the team can do jump start its under-performing offense.

Anecdotally, it’s not difficult to figure out that the Giants have relied far, far too often on the three wide receiver set with one running back one tight end, commonly called “11” personnel. They seem to almost always be in that formation, usually with quarterback Eli Manning in the shotgun, a place that severely limits the the type and number of running plays at his disposal.

If you think the Giants have been in “11” personnel an extraordinary amount of time this season, your eyes have not been deceiving you. Per official NFL stats from NFL GSIS the Giants have run 370 offensive plays this season that have not been nullified by penalty. They have been in “11” personnel on an amazing 356 of those, or 96.2 percent if you don’t want to bother doing the math.

“We felt that it put us in the best position to be successful. But again, we are going to go back to the drawing board, take a look at it and see if we can change things up heading into Philadelphia,” McAdoo said on Monday.

It is certainly understandable that McAdoo would want to maximize the play-making potential of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz — who obviously seem like the best play makers on the team’s offense.

Counting plays nullified by penalty, the Giants have had 391 offensive snaps. Cruz has played 379, Beckham 378 and Shepard is low man on the totem pole with 376.

The results have not been good. The Giants are 25th in the league in points, 20th in yards, 30th in time of possession per drive, 26th in third down efficiency, 23rd in points per play, 24th in yards per play on first down, last in the league in rushing yards per game and 29th in rushing yards per attempt.

I could go on with these stats, which come courtesy of Sporting Charts, but you get the point. The offense has been among the worst in the league no matter how you look at it.

Considering the expectations, and the level of talent most analysts believe quarterback Eli Manning is surrounded with, that lack of production is abominable. And it simply has to change if the 4-3 Giants, still last in the highly-competitive NFC East, are going to make a serious playoff run.

Nineteen points per game, a league-worst time of possession of 25:57 and 14 giveaways (two per game) are not going to cut it in upcoming games against the Philadelphia Eagles (twice), Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers and even the Detroit Lions. There are very few, if any, Case Keenum-caliber quarterbacks left on the Giants’ schedule. Shoot, the Giants are scoring barely more than a half-point per game more than the pitiful 0-7 Cleveland Browns.

“We are going to look at everything. We just had a staff meeting,” McAdoo said. “We are going to look at personnel, we are going to look at scheme, we are going to look at a bunch of different things, personnel groups to see if we can get it jump started here over the bye week.

“We are going to take a good, long, hard look at ourselves – schematically, what has been good, what needs some work and maybe things that you need to – addition by subtraction. There may be some things that you need to tweak schematically. Then personnel, see who needs to play a little bit more, who may need to play a little bit less, so just take a long, hard look at ourselves first. That is important, self-scout is a big part of things and you have a chance to really fine tune what you are doing in all three phases and do what you do best when the games are most important here in the secondhalf of the year.

The Giants were sixth in the league in scoring last season at 26.25 points per game. With what seems like superior personnel, they are scoring more than a touchdown less this season.

“That is what we are going to take the next few days and try to figure out. We certainly feel like we have plenty of talent, plenty of scheme. Consistency is a big part of things. We need to eliminate the unforced errors and turning the ball over, we are giving possessions away, so any time that you give possessions away, that is points. We need to come out ahead of the turnover battle, that will help us,” McAdoo said. “We have plenty of scheme and plenty of talent, we just have to get it going.”

So the coach doesn’t have to look it up himself, let’s help him out. When the Giants were one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league a season ago they ran 72.6 percent of their plays out of an “11” personnel grouping. Yet, relying heavily on guys who are no longer around — like Rueben Randle and Andre Williams — they played better offense.

Perhaps for the Giants, less “11” could be a first step toward scoring more points.

We will talk more in coming days about changes the Giants need to make in personnel, such as perhaps using running back Paul Perkins, tight end Jerell Adams and wide receiver Roger Lewis more. Perhaps dusting off running back Orleans Darkwa. Perhaps they need to run more from under center, maybe with two tight ends or an offensive lineman used as a lead blocker. Perhaps some play-action passing from under center, long a Manning strength but something the McAdoo offense rarely utilizes.

For now, though, let’s hope that McAdoo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan see what if right in front of them. That using the same personnel grouping play after play is making it easier for defenses to cover the Giants’ wide receivers, and that those three diminutive receivers are not helping the Giants clear space in the run game.

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And a little variety certainly won’t hurt in an effort to spice up the Giants’ offense.