5 Scheme Adjustments the New York Giants Should Consider in 2012
The New York Giants were one of the more surprising Super Bowl winners in NFL history in 2011. They sneaked into the playoffs at 9-7 with a negative point differential, mainly due to the underachieving of the NFC East in 2011.
The point behind addressing this is they are not without holes—some of which can be fixed with coaching. Most of the fixes will come from the defensive side of the ball, and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likely has these changes in mind already.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride did not get much credit for the Giants' Top-10 offense last season, mostly because the fans have grown to hate his inconsistency over the years. I have some possible changes for him as well that could turn the Giants offensive into more of a juggernaut than it already is.
Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Use the NASCAR Package More Often
The New York Giants like to run what they call a NASCAR package. This is when they bring four defensive ends on the field to rush the passer, and they typically do this on 3rd-and-long situations. They should be doing this more often.
The reason being the NFL has evolved into a passing league, and teams are not afraid to throw it on first and second down anymore. In fact, it has become many team's philosophies to throw the ball to set up the run, rather than the typical reverse of that strategy.
Defensive ends are a huge strength for the Giants, and Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck are good enough run defenders from the defensive tackle positions that the Giants would not be as susceptible to the run as you would think.
Not to mention Jacquian Williams could fill in very well for Mathias Kiwanuka in these situations. The rookie sixth-round pick was impressive in 2011.
Keep the Coverage Simple
After the Giants were torched by some of the league's best offenses (and the Washington Redskins), Perry Fewell made an adjustment with his scheme prior to the New York Jets game in Week 16. He planned on simplifying the defense.
What resulted was a thing of genius. Over the next six games during the incredible Super Bowl run, the Giants allowed just 14 points per game.
Fewell finally came around and stopped employing strategies that were not working. The secondary was no longer making last-second adjustments on the field before the snap, and he was no longer using three-man rushes and dropping eight into coverage.
Obviously, the health of Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck proved to be a big factor, but the quality play of Aaron Ross and Corey Webster skyrocketed during this stretch.
Fewell will hopefully remember what worked and keep that momentum going.
Play More Man Coverage
This is a sidebar to the previous slide, but in keeping the coverage simple, Fewell should also look to play a bit more man coverage.
He's applied the Tampa 2 defense to his unit, which is largely a zone coverage scheme, but his secondary has the capability of playing man from time to time.
Corey Webster is best suited while playing man, Prince Amukamara looked lost in zone last season and rookie Jayron Hosley looked best in college during man coverage.
As long as Fewell has his full complement of corners as his disposal, the occasional man coverage should be encouraged.
Use the Tight End More
For whatever reason, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has not utilized the tight end in his offense since Jeremy Shockey was traded. This could be a result of the caliber of players the Giants had at the position.
That cannot be used as an excuse any longer. The Giants now have two very capable and very athletically gifted tight ends. Martellus Bennett is a huge target with soft hands and deceptive speed, and fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson is an athletic freak whom Jerry Reese called the "JPP of tight ends."
The Giants should be able to create a ton of mismatches with these two guys, and they have to be used more often than tight ends have in the past.
Trust Eli Manning
Last season, I was a big proponent of the Giants sticking to the run game, even when it was not working. I refused to give up on the offensive line that had been so dominant in seasons past.
Now that I have no faith in their ability to run block, if the run game fails to produce early in games, I hope Gilbride will just turn Eli Manning loose. He proved he's capable of carrying an offense last season. The Giants had the worst rushing game in the entire NFL, yet ranked eighth in total yards and ninth in points scored.
At multiple points during the season, I hoped one of the reporters would ask Eli if his back hurt.
Gilbride has to realize what he has in Eli—an elite quarterback capable of winning games through the air. The NFL is evolving, and the run game is not as important any more.
(And please, for the love of God, ELIMINATE the SHOTGUN DRAW from the playbook, for my own sanity if nothing else)