The New York Giants averaged just 5.2 yards per passing attempt Sunday night vs. the Dallas Cowboys, part of the reason they lost, 19-3. Yours truly complained on Tuesday that there was too much “dink and dunk” in the passing offense, and not enough plays that attacked down the field.
Were there opportunities for deeper throws? It’s only fair to try to find out, so I went to the All-22 film to take a look. There weren’t many chances for Eli Manning to get the ball deeper down the field, but there were a few. Let’s look at a handful of plays.
First quarter, 2nd and 5 NYG 30-yard line, 11:57
This play ended up as an incompletion to Paul Perkins. That, I believe is Sterling shepard highlighted at the bottom and Brandon Marshall at the top. It looks like there is a chance to hit either for a 15-20-yard gain. Unfortunately, center Weston Richburg gives up inside pressure, forcing Manning to move and try to dump the ball off.
Second quarter, 2nd and 7, NYG 14-yard line, 11:57
This is a play where I haven’t the faintest idea why Manning didn’t throw the ball to either Evan Engram (highlight above) or Brandon Marshall (highlighted below as the deep receiver just a split second later).
Manning took the easy throw to Shepard for a 12-yard gain, but this play could have gone for a lot more.
Second quarter, first and 10, NYG 21-yard line, 6:04
After a play fake, Manning rolls right, He appears to have Shepard in the Cover 2 soft spot between the corner and safety. He hesitates, though, and dumps the ball off to Engram for a 3-yard gain. The Giants were penalized here as Richburg ended up illegally downfield.
Third quarter, 2nd and 4, Dallas 48-yard line, 12:39
I put this one here, but it’s actually a good decision by Manning. That is Marshall streak down the seam against what appears to be man-to-man coverage, right? Perfect time for a deep shot, right? Give the big man a chance. Only the ball has already been delivered to Shepard and when it was Marshall was bracketed by two defenders.
Fourth quarter, second and 12, NYG 45-yard line, 12:58
This is a “maybe” in my mind. That is Marshall down at the bottom with one-one-one coverage deep down the left sideline. Manning was looking right the whole way, though, and by this time the ball is already out for a 9-yard completion to Roger Lewis Jr.
I can see absolutely acceptable reasons for why the ball didn’t go down the field farther on all of these plays, with the probable exception of the third one. There were two choices for big plays there, and plenty of time to throw the ball down the field.
My $.02, and this is more of a nagging thought than anything I’ve had verified by people who know more about quarterback play than I do, is this. In his younger days when the Giant offense was run by Kevin Gilbride I think Manning would have stood in there and made the deep throw, taking the shot at making the big play. Now, with McAdoo running the shots we hear constantly about the desire to find completions. I wonder if, because of the offense he is now in, Manning sometimes passes on the deep 50-50 ball in favor of an easy completion. Just a thought.