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The Sully Effect? Seismic shift in personnel deployment by Giants

With depleted wide receiver corps, Giants go all in on use of ‘12’ personnel

New York Giants v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

One of the distinct differences in the New York Giants offense on Sunday night with Mike Sullivan calling plays instead of head coach Ben McAdoo was in the way the Giants deployed personnel.

That move away from McAdoo’s favored ‘11’ personnel, three wide receivers and one running back, to ‘12’ personnel, two tight ends, two wide receivers and one running back, is striking.

Considering the losses of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris at wide receiver it may have happened even with McAdoo calling the plays. If you believe the head coach had nothing to do with the game plan and hadn’t signed off on, or perhaps even suggested, the change in approach you’re fooling yourself.

The change allows the Giants to get Rhett Ellison (35 snaps, 64.8 percent of the offensive plays) on the field more often. That helps the run game, helps the Giants protect the edges in the passing game and allows them the freedom to get Evan Engram in the slot or out wide on occasion.

Even when Shepard returns from his ankle injury, which might happen this week against the Seattle Seahawks, a reliance on ‘12’ personnel could still be the Giants best option. It allows them to get Ellison’s blocking and experience on the field more often and provides the ability to be less predictable in how they employ Engram, their best remaining weapon in the passing game.

Chris, incidentally, made us look really smart by calling for an increased use of ‘12’ personnel way back in July. And by mentioning it again here.

By official count, Engram played 38 snaps. Pro Football Focus had him for 40, 29 inline, 8 in the slot and 3 lined up wide.

Check out the pick play below, and the very subtle move by Ellison to avoid contact with the defender — which likely would have been a penalty.

PFF pointed out that Ellison played only 39 percent of offensive snaps the first four weeks. He played 71 percent of the snaps last week when injuries struck.

A few more stats

We already provides some stats and snap count data from Pro Football Focus. Here are a few more notes, provided by the Giants’ PR staff:

  • The Giants had 118 net passing yards, their lowest total since they threw for 90 yards in a 38-0 loss at Carolina on Sept. 22, 2013.
  • Eli Manning completed 11-of-19 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. The 19 attempts were his lowest total in a full regular-season game since he threw 15 passes at Buffalo on Dec. 23, 2007. Manning threw 18 passes in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game in Dallas on Jan. 13, 2008. He threw 10 passes vs. Oakland on Oct. 11, 2009, but played only five series in that game, and 19 at Minnesota on Dec. 28, 2008, but did not play in the second half.
  • Manning’s 11 completions was his lowest total in a full game since Nov. 4, 2012, when he had 10 (on 24 attempts) vs. Pittsburgh. Manning’s 128 yards in Denver was his lowest total in a game in which he took every snap since he had 125 in that game vs. the Steelers five years ago.
  • Orleans Darkwa’s 47-yard run was more than twice as long as any other run in his four-year career. His previous long run was last week’s 23-yard touchdown run vs. the Los Angeles Chargers. The 47-yarder was also the Giants’ longest run since Dec. 7, 2014, when Andre Williams scored on a 50-yard run in a victory at Tennessee.