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Giants vs. Falcons -- When the Giants have the ball

How will the Giants' offense respond to the debacle in Dallas? We take a look at what the offense could do when the Giants have the ball.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Have the New York Giants had a noisier week of preparation than this past week?

Not in recent memory, and not likely in the regular season -- though the circus surrounding Super Bowl Media Day shouldn't really count.

The mystifying, embarrassing, and gut-wrenching loss to the Dallas Cowboys has fans abandoning their team in droves and a rabid media unveiling a fresh outrage seemingly every five minutes.

But amidst all that noise the New York Giants are moving on and preparing for their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. What can -- or should -- we look for from the Giants' offense in their second game of 2015?


"Stay fit. Keep sharp. Make good decisions."

Eli Manning admitted to losing track of the number of time outs the Dallas Cowboys had left at the end Sunday night's game. Going into the Giants' Week 2 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons he might want to keep Louis Tulley's mantra from Ghostbuster's 2 in the front of his mind.

Prior to the last two minutes of the game, Eli was generally sharp. He only made one really questionable throw, but that was on what should have been a free play. Combine that with the five passes dropped by Giants' receivers -- more on that later -- and Eli's completion percentage should have been roughly 70 percent..

Atlanta's new head coach is former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and he has the Falcons' defense playing fast and swarming to the ball. The urgency that the Falcons' defense played with against the Philadelphia Eagles means that Eli won't be able to afford to have any lapses in concentration or decision making like he had at the end of the season opener.

Against the Cowboys the Giants game planned to get the ball out quickly and take advantage what the defense gave them. That meant only a few passes went to Odell Beckham Jr., but four other receivers made at least three receptions. The Giants will likely want to get their premier play maker more involved in the offense, but will likely want to continue the up-tempo, high percentage passing game to reduce the pressure on a young offensive line.

Offensive Line

Contrary to popular fears, the Giants' offensive line performed pretty well on Sunday night. Beginning in the preseason whispers began to emerge from those who study offensive line play that the Giants might just have something impressive cooking with the young trio of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, and Weston Richburg. The three linemen each performed well against the Dallas front seven, with Flowers and Richburg making their mark in the run game while Justin Pugh was strong in pass protection.

The Giants will likely want to continue building cohesiveness on their offensive line by placing greater emphasis on the run game against Atlanta. The Giants will also need to make sure Flowers' injured ankle is healthy.

"Just like any other injury," Flowers said. "Got to play through it, get through. ... In my head, I'm looking to play [Sunday]."

Receivers & Running Backs

The New York Giants running backs combined for only 22 rushing attempts. That number will likely increase against the  Falcons. Running the ball plays into the strengths of Flowers and limits the Falcons' opportunities to mount a pass rush.

Shane Vereen also contributed with four receptions, and that leads into the Giants' biggest problem on offense -- other than the mismanagement of their final drive. Manning was victimized by dropped passes, particularly by Preston Parker who had three drive killing drops. If the Giants can't rely on their slot receiver to keep the chains moving on third down they will likely turn to their running backs, either directly out of the backfield or motioning them into the slot.

"We certainly want to see the ball caught and not dropped," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "We'll see how practice goes this week. Dwayne Harris will get more opportunities, but we'll see."

As for the wide receivers, look for Eli to make a more concerted effort to get the ball to Odell Beckham in a variety of ways, particularly attacking downfield. The terror that Beckham can inspire in defenses can open up the field for the rest of the offense, and the Giants will want to take advantage of that. The vitality of the Giants' passing game, however, might depend on the health of Rueben Randle's knees. Randle had been dealing with tendinitis in the preseason and didn't quite appear to have his normal burst off the line against the Cowboys.

"I would like to see the ball down the field. I don't want the ball turned over, but I would like to see the ball down the field, yes," Coughlin said. "I just don't throw that out there. Obviously, there has to be some excellent decision-making on when to do things. But just by general nature, for me, it's always been, at some point, let's get it down the field."

If the Falcons ape the Cowboys' strategy of trying to take away the Giants ability to generate explosive plays through the air, look for Eli to continue to go to Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells over the middle. The X-factor there might be if the Giants activate pre-season favorite Jerome Cunningham, who's impressive athleticism and soft hands could eventually make for a dangerous weapon in the middle of the field

Final Thoughts

The New York Giants are facing what is most likely their most important week of preparation since February of 2012, and they still have some work to do on offense. Eli Manning will need to be sharp when the Giants take the field against the Atlanta Falcons. The Giants' quarterback took the onus of the week 1 loss, and will have to put the ensuing media firestorm out of his mind and make sure he is on point. The Giants' players are behind their quarterback -- for now. But for the team to stay together and stay afloat, Eli Manning will need to make the correct calls and put the offense in position to succeed.

The Giants will also need to make a decision about their third down offense. Will they give Parker a second chance to prove himself, or will they make an adjustment? They could turn to Vereen or one of the tight ends to be their go-to target on third downs, or perhaps even give impressive rookie Geremy Davis a look as an outside receiver and move Beckham into the slot.