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For Giants offense, a few silver linings Saturday in the run game

Overall it wasn’t good enough, but there were some plays to build on

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As far as offensive performances go, Saturday night’s outing by the New York Giants was perhaps just that: Offensive. The offense struggled to get anything going when they had the football, both on the ground and in the air. Reserve quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Clayton Thorson combined to complete just 8 of 23 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, a scoring strike that came on a scramble drill late in the game from Thorson.

Thorson, however, was sacked on the game’s final play and suffered a concussion, and was waived by the organization with an injury designation on Monday.

Then there was the running game, which if one is searching for silver linings the ground attack could serve as that means for hope. New York running backs combined for 93 yards on 15 carries, with the bulk of those yards coming on a single play from Sandro Platzgummer, a run we will dive into momentarily. Wide receiver C.J. Board added another 12 yards on a well-executed end-around. But beyond the production is how those yards came, on a mix of both gap/power and zone designs.

Let’s dive into the bright spots.

Let’s start with this 8-yard gain from Devontae Booker:

The Giants use a gap/power design here, combining a short trap from the left guard with the downfield releases by the right guard and the right tackle. Looking at the end zone angle of this play highlights how the blocking scheme comes together:

Beyond the blocking effort from left guard Kenny Wiggins — who gets enough on the penetrating defensive tackle to prevent him from making a play — is how the right guard and right tackle set up that DT. In particular, right guard Will Hernandez takes a step towards him with his right foot, showing the defensive tackle a potential combination block. That helps set up the DT for the pull from Wiggins, as Hernandez and tackle Matt Peart then release to the second level to take on the linebackers.

Another run that stood out is this 10-yard gain from Corey Clement early in the second quarter:

This design, called out of a two-tight end set, also involved power elements. As you can see from the end zone angle, Hernandez and tight end Cole Hikutini are the duo who pave the way for Clement:

There are a few elements to highlight from this angle. First is the kick-out block from Hernandez on the play-side defensive end. That is followed shortly thereafter by the work from the pulling tight end on the second level, as Hikutini takes on the linebacker and prevents him from getting to the ball-carrier.

But not to be ignored is the effort from center Nick Gates. With Hernandez pulling, there is a threat posed by the 3-technique defensive lineman, who is playing on the inside shoulder of right tackle Peart. If that defensive tackle gets penetration, he can stop this play in the backfield before it gets going. To prevent this, Gates is tasked with reaching that 3-technique and helping Peart. This is a tough block to execute, but Gates is able to get there and seal off the DT, eliminating that threat before it comes to fruition.

Then, of course, is the big gain from Platzgummer, which comes on an inside zone design:

The vision from Platzgummer is a big reason for this gain, but not the sole reason. The running back starts on the inside but has the awareness to identify the cutback opportunity on the right edge and exploit it for the big gain. But pay attention to the work from right tackle Chad Slade. Slade fans out initially towards the defensive end, but when that player slants to the inside, the RT has the awareness and foot quickness to plant his left foot to the inside, cutting off the slanting defensive end. Then Slade uses his upper-body strength to pin that player to the inside, creating the cutback opportunity for the running back. Platzgummer had the vision and burst to exploit the lane, but Slade made the lane possible.

Now of course, a few plays in the run game will not overshadow what was, on the whole, a meager offensive showing. The passing game struggled, protection at times was marred by penetration and sacks, and there were missed opportunities from Giants quarterbacks when they took to the air.

Still, I went on a mission to find some silver linings, and here they are friends. Hopefully we see better execution from the offense in the second preseason game.