New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo says the team will not “throw out the baby with the bath water” in an effort to fix their broken offense. After eight straight games of scoring less than 20 points, and not having reached 30 since 2015 when McAdoo was offensive coordinator, something has to be done.
What Can Be Done?
Here are a few ideas. And none of these are going to include trading for Joe Thomas, because that’s not realistic. Or, completely re-shuffling the offensive line. That isn’t happening right now. Let’s stick with things they might be able to do Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Run the ball more: At 27.8 percent, the Giants have the lowest percentage of rushing attempts in the NFL. Yes, they haven’t been good (26th in the league with a 3.2 yards per carry average), but they need to stick with it more. You obviously can’t run late in games when you are behind and the clock is running out, but you can’t just give up early after a few poor attempts, either. The offensive line will have no chance to pass protect if there is no run threat.
- Use Orleans Darkwa more: I’m under no illusion that Darkwa is some sort of All-Pro back. He’s not Le’Veon Bell or Adrian Peterson of five years ago. But, he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry in a far-too-small sample size and Paul Perkins is averaging 1.9. It’s pretty obvious Darkwa deserves more than the six carries he has gotten thus far.
- Use two tight ends more often: Yes, this might mean that someone like Brandon Marshall probably sees a reduction in snaps. Or, if Odell Beckham Jr. is still not playing every snap use a second tight end when he’s off the field. Rhett Ellison was signed partially to help the Giants with blocking on the edges. Let him do that, and let Evan Engram get out into pass patterns without having to chip or, worse yet, staying in to block altogether.
- Use the fullback more: Whether that means more Shane Smith, or whether it means using Ellison as the fullback doesn’t matter. A few more snaps with a fullback on the field seems like a good idea.
- Scheme to help the edges: Really, we’ve talked about this already. Two tight-end sets, chipping with the back or tight end, bunch sets to simply create traffic on one side or the other, move the pocket once in a while. You just can’t rely on Flowers or, on Sunday, Justin Pugh at right tackle to hold up alone.
“They can talk about scheming a lot of chips in but that’s not really Ben McAdoo’s offense. They way he schemes in a chip is throwing the ball as quick as possible,” Geoff Schwartz told me during a recent Big Blue View Radio appearance. “Possibly he’ll have some new formations, some new ways to get the ball out really quick and that is how they fix the offensive line. There’s no magic pill, they’re not inserting anybody.”
McAdoo And The Play-Calling
Would I like to see McAdoo surrender play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan? Sure. The Giants scored 30 or more points 12 times while McAdoo was offensive coordinator and haven’t done it yet with him as head coach. That either means that McAdoo is having a hard time doing both jobs, or that Tom Coughlin and his position coaches deserved a lot more credit than many were willing to give them at the time. Maybe both.
Either way, letting Sullivan have a crack at the play-calling can’t hurt. It isn’t, though, the panacea for all that ails the offense. It won’t fix the offensive line, prevent guys from dropping balls or prevent Eli Manning from occasionally throwing poor passes.
I agree with what Sullivan said on Thursday:
“I think regardless of the team, regardless of the offense that’s run, regardless of any of those variables, it still comes down to players making plays.”
With Apologies To Don La Greca
Here are a few offensive line-specific stats.
Here is how Pro Football Focus has graded the Giants’ offensive lineman thus far:
Giants RG John Jerry is the 12th-highest graded guard through Week 2 pic.twitter.com/bl5NauV6Eg— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_NYGiants) September 20, 2017
Pugh’s 43.9 grade, which isn’t good, is probably also not fair. He spent last week playing right tackle — where he hasn’t been in two years and where he simply isn’t as good as he is at left guard. They believe that, for now, he is their best option to replace Bobby Hart, but that doesn’t mean he is a great option.
The Giants, though, don’t believe Chad Wheeler is ready and don’t seem to think D.J. Fluker is an option outside.
As bad as things seem, statistically the Giants aren’t close to being the worst offensive line in the league.
Football Outsiders ranks the Giants 22nd in the league in run blocking at 3.71 Adjusted Line Yards per running play. The Giants are, however, 11th in percentage of “stuffed” runs — those which have gone for losses. The Giants have given up sacks on 10.1 percent of drop backs by Eli Manning, 26th in the league. That means six teams are getting their quarterback sacked more often.
Some History, And Some Numbers
For the record, I went back as far as 1977 — the year Don Le Greca mentioned in his incredible rant about the offensive line — and haven’t found a longer streak. In 1977, the Giants had a six-game streak of less than 20 points and scored fewer than 20 in eight of nine games and 12 of their last 14. In 1980, Phil Simms’ rookie season, they had a streak of seven straight sub-20 point games, six of those in single-digits. In 2003, when the went 4-12 in Jim Fassel’s final season, they had a seven-game streak of scoring less than 20 points.
Offense By The Numbers
|NYG Offense||Value (rank)|
|NYG Offense||Value (rank)|
|3D Conversion %||33.33% (#24)|
|4D Conversion %||33.33% (#12)|
|RZ Scoring % (TD)||33.33% (#23)|
|Rush Play %||27.78% (#32)|
|Rush Yards/Game||48.5 (#32)|
|Rush TDs/Game||-- (#22)|
|Pass Play %||72.22% (#1)|
|Completion %||72.86% (#4)|
|Pass Yards/Game||203.0 (#18)|
|Int Thrown %||2.86% (#23)|
|QB Sacked %||10.26% (#28)|