Defensive Playbook: Get after the QB
Even with a new defensive coordinator, substantial changes to the wide receiver corps and the addition of a Chris Colley-ish tight end, the New York Giants should expect very few alterations to their existing playbook for the 2009-10 season.
The most significant change will come on the defensive side of the ball and will also be the most welcomed.
Under Steve Spagnuolo, it was common to see one of New York’s pass rushers dropping into coverage. It was part of his defensive scheme and gave the opposing team a different look and something extra to think about.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work to the Giants’ advantage as most of the pass rushers were uncomfortable dropping back into coverage. It was an unnatural motion and not something they did with much success.
"We're definitely going to have the pass rushers rushing as much as we can," Bill Sheridan told the media in late April. "When you get into zone (blitzes), you have down guys dropping. And you're never going to get away from that, but as much as we can, we're going to try to orchestrate so that our pass rushers are rushing because that's our strength. We recognize that and everybody knows that."
While they will still drop back into coverage on occasion, it will not be the norm for the defensive linemen. Instead, their main job will be to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback…which is exactly what they are paid to do.
However, it will put more pressure on the linebackers to pick up the slack and improve their coverage skills. And if the last few years have been any indication, especially in the case of Antonio Pierce, that will be no easy task.
Offensive Playbook: New faces, same plays.
The Giants wide receivers corps have undergone a significant makeover this offseason and that’s reason enough to believe they’d change many of their passing plays. To this point, however, that does not appear to be the route offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride & Co. are taking.
Instead, they seem poised to make their new receivers work with what they have rather than changing the offense around them.
And why not? After all, they only need one legitimate deep threat to keep an extra safety out of the box and away from Brandon Jacobs. If they do that, they’ve already won more than half the battle.
The Giants are a run-first team…there’s no doubt about that. So if they can dominate on the ground as they have in recent years, Eli Manning’s experience, game-managing ability and fourth quarter prowess should be more than enough to win New York plenty of games.
So if even one wide receiver steps up and plays anywhere near Plaxico Burress’ ability…well, then that’s really just an added bonus for them.
The X-Factors: A few additions
Along with some of the minor changes listed above, the Giants will be adding a handful of plays this coming season in order to better utilize their newest weapon: Travis Beckum.
The 6’3’’, 243 pound former high school linebacker will be one of the first Giants in many years to have plays added to the book specifically for him.
"It'll be fun to [design new plays for him]," Tom Coughlin said. "There are certain things you try to feature or develop with that particular kind of player."
There’s no telling what New York has in store for this H-Back, but you can bet it will be similar to what Washington does with Chris Cooley. So that means he’ll be lining up off-tackle at tight end, split wide and possibly even at fullback…or better yet, behind Madison Hedgecock.
Whatever the Giants decide to do, and however many plays they decide to add, you can bet it will be thrilling. Beckum adds a whole new dimension to an already explosive offense and most of us can’t wait to see what he brings to the table.