The New York Giants want to be a run-first football team. Whether it’s with Saquon Barkley on a hand-off, a zone-read play, or a designed quarterback run, the Giants know their best chance at success comes from moving the ball on the ground.
That might come as something of a surprise, given the high-flying nature of the offenses that head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka helped build in Buffalo and Kansas City (respectively). The Giants’ reliance on the run and a very safe passing scheme has caused some to believe that they just don’t have the confidence to call a more aggressive passing offense.
Daboll, however, expressed confidence in how Kafka has called games this year. He also said that he trusts quarterback Daniel Jones, as well as the Giants’ receivers and pass blockers.
On Wednesday, Jones mirrored his coach and told reporters that he felt the coaches were confident in the Giants’ ability to throw the ball when necessary.
“I do, yeah,” Jones said. “I do [believe the coaches have confidence in the passing game]. I think we’ve at points in the year we’ve leaned on it, and we’ll continue to work to improve it.”
That confidence, however, hasn’t exactly been shared by fans and writers at times this season.
Both during and after the game there was confusion (and frustration) among some fans and writers regarding the Giants’ two-minute drill at the end of the first half. The 13-play drive took 2:21 in game clock, ending the half with points for the Giants, so in that sense it worked. But shat series saw the Giants opt to hand the ball off repeatedly, eschewing the traditional pass-first nature of the two-minute drill.
“I thought we executed that situation well,” Jones said. “We got points which is always the goal. We’ll always look to see what we can do better or where there are opportunities for us to make big plays. I thought we executed that situation well.”
As far as the in-game circumstances, Jones is probably right.
Even though he only dropped back to pass three times in that 13-play drive, handing the ball off was probably the right decision given the defense Washington was playing. They were absolutely daring the Giants to run the ball, using an exceptionally light and wide defensive alignment. They frequently had just four or five defenders in the box and left several gaps uncovered.
That made the decision to give the ball to the Giants best player (Barkley) a pretty easy one. Running the ball in that situation was probably just as likely to produce an explosive play as throwing it.
But within the context of a team that has the fifth-fewest passing attempts and completions in the NFL — not to mention two games in which their starting quaterback was healthy but had no passing yards in the fourth quarter — that two-minute drill has to feed into larger questions.
That said, the passing attack is what it is at this point. The roster is (very) unlikely to change beyond a couple players getting healthy. The only thing the Giants can do is try to lean on their strengths, which has been the running game.
“We’re always studying what the defense does and how we can attack it in the pass game as well as the run game,” Jones said. “In terms of how we’re going to play and our game plan, I think a lot of those decisions are certainly above my head. We’ve been effective running the ball all year, also. I understand that and we’re doing a good job with that.”