A Giant Playbook

Melissa TabatabaiCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 29:  The New England Patriots line up against of the New York Giants on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

These five formations led the New York Giants straight to the playoffs last season, but a gun shot wound and a few injuries along the way left them dead at the at the hands of Philadelphia.


Will we see more of the same in 2009, or will the new kids on the block encourage a stubborn Coach Tom Coughlin to stir things up?




I-Form Sweep


Coming out of the I-formation, a towering Brandon Jacobs can see over the line and can easily anticipate linebacker shifts. Jacobs’ running style lets the line do the work and his first cut doesn’t come until after he hits the hole.


During their second game against division rival Philadelphia Eagles, Jacobs ran successfully out of this formation gaining an average 5.8 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.


At 6’4’’ and 264 pounds, Jacobs is the perfect fit for this scheme. While being tackled, he is constantly moving forward and can stretch a run by an additional 3-5 yards. Definitely expect to see this play in the rotation next season.




Shotgun Draw


On critical third downs and coming out of the shotgun, the draw to Derrick Ward worked flawlessly. The defense is caught off guard and out of position. In most cases, they line up in a nickel, dime or quarter formation and very often a defensive back ends up mismatched against a running back.


In week 16, in a game against the Carolina Panthers for home-field advantage, the Giants ran this play several times on crucial third downs creating a first down each time. Ward ran for 89 yards on four carries out of this formation alone.


Ward has a quick first step and runs low to the ground which makes him perfect for the draw. He’s a quality blocker and a good receiver, which also helps him to sell the pass.


With the loss of Ward during the off-season it might be difficult for replacement Ahmad Bradshaw to completely fill the hole. A speedy Bradshaw will be able to bounce to the outside, but his small frame will make it tough to run between the tackles.




Shotgun Single-Wing


Playing out of the shotgun formation, Manning had several reliable targets that stretched the field. 


The single-wing receiver is isolated to one side of the field playing against the cornerback and the sideline. With this particular route there is rarely any help from the safety unless they double team at or around the line of scrimmage.


A quick pump fake freezes the defender and creates a little more space for the wideout.


Against the Rams, wide receiver Amani Toomer gained 60 yards from this play and moved the chains with each reception. The Giants need to look for a replacement receiver with good hands and the ability to run an excellent route to do well in this formation next season.




Goal Line


It’s fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line and the defense has stuffed the run three times. What does offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride have in his playbook?


Quarterback Eli Manning snaps the ball and fakes the handoff to the running back. The tight end blocks to sell the run and quickly crosses to the opposite side of the field where Manning dumps it off for a touchdown.


In weeks 10, 11, and 14 this goal line formation resulted in a touchdown against overly aggressive defensive teams, Philadelphia and Baltimore.


To reinvent this play for next season, Gilbride can use motion, or substitute a big wide receiver or running back.






Unlike many teams around the league, the Giants defense continually pressures the quarterback without blitzing.


Led by defensive end Justin Tuck, an excellent pass rush allows the secondary to fall back into coverage creating deflected passes and turnovers. Last season, the Giants lead the NFC with a give-away take-away ratio of +9.


The return of a healthy Osi Umenyiora this season will add to an already explosive defense and Mathias Kiwanuka will be able to return to his natural linebacker position.


Led by veteran Antonio Pierce, the defense should only get better next season.