How did the New York Giants, in what was a one-score game for the entire second half, end up throwing a franchise record 63 passes on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles?
“Sixty-three times is a lot to throw the ball but situational football, that's how it went,” coach Ben McAdoo said during a Friday evening conference call.
But, did it have to go that way?
In the first half, which ended with the Giants trailing, 21-13, Eli Manning threw 27 passes while the Giants ran the ball 16 times. In the second half, Manning threw an astounding 36 passes while the Giants ran the ball only nine times.
McAdoo seemed to indicate that it was game situations and not necessarily the fact that the Giants were trailing that caused the imbalance.
“When you look at it, we had 22 third downs and the few two-minute drives I think, about 40 of those snaps and we had 88 plays, so we got a lot of plays,” he said. “Forty of the snaps were either a third down or a form of two-minute drives.”
The Giants ran the ball well, gaining 114 yards on their 25 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Philadelphia sat back in a two-deep zone most of the night with what would be called a light box, using only six or even defenders up on the line. The Eagles were daring the Giants to run, basically giving that to the offense to prevent the explosive passing play.
Early in the game, former Giants punter Jeff Feagles tweeted this:
Giants 51 yards rushing first quarter! Good balance on offense 10 passes 10 runs. Have to keep the runs at a higher clip than pass tonight.— Jeff Feagles (@Jfeagles) December 23, 2016
Former Giant offensive lineman and current analyst for SB Nation Geoff Schwartz tweeted this during the game:
Have to be able to run against cover 2. That's the only way to force a defense out of that coverage. It's that simple— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) December 23, 2016
Yet, in the second half it was something the Giants never even really tried. They had five second-half drives that broke down like this:
- 3Q, 13:17 (21-13, Eagles) — Nine plays (seven passes, two runs)
- 3Q, 1:10 extending into Q4 (21-16, Eagles) — Nine plays (five passes, four runs)
- 4Q, 8:47 (24-16, Eagles) — Nine plays (eight passes, one run)
- 4Q, 4:15 (24-19, Eagles) — Seven plays (five passes, two runs)
- 4Q, 1:31 (24-19, Eagles) — Ten plays (10 passes, zero runs)
The entire second half was played as a one-score game, yet the only drive that had any run/pass balance was the second possession of the second half. The only one where the Giants were in two-minute desperation mode and balance had to go out the window was the final one.
When you have a questionable offensive line and a quarterback who, for all his accomplishments, has always been prone to turning the ball over, the running game is your friend.
“We felt strong with the run and with the pass,” McAdoo insisted on Friday evening.
Yet, the Giants did not take full advantage of a run game that was working and that they had time and opportunity to utilize. Instead, they put the onus completely on their quarterback and on an offensive line that, sacks or no sacks, consistently struggles to give Manning a comfortable pocket.
Other takeaways from McAdoo’s conference call.
On the possibility of wearing Manning out ...
“Well we take precautions there on our Wednesday practice. We're smart with what we ask him to do. We minimize the throws there, we minimize the throws, he doesn't throw on Friday and we cut-down what we do on Saturday, as well as Thursday's. Last week he didn't throw a ball after the game until we got to the game on Thursday. But yes, we factored that in.”
On whether he will watch games that impact the Giants this weekend ...
“I want to stay focused. Spend a little time with the family and make sure we stay focused on Washington. We've got a big ball game coming up and we need to put a good plan together and put these guys in position to be successful.”
On the penalty for the walkie-talkie violation ...
“Obviously I don't want to rehash what happened. I made the decision in the heat of the moment and I violated the rule. I own that decision. I take responsibility for it. There are no excuses, I deserve to be held accountable for my actions. I accept the penalty and move forward.”