The following article deals with the success of the 2008 New York Giants offense. In 2008, the Giants rushing attacked was ranked number one in the NFL. They ran for over 2,500 yards and 5 yards per carry while pumping in 19 touchdowns. Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward both gained over 1,000 yards and helped the Giants to a 12-4 record.
The ground game was a key reason the Giants claimed their second NFC East Division title in four years and locking up the number one overall seed in the NFC playoffs. Coupling this with their timely passing attack, made the Giants one of the most fearsome teams to deal with in the 2008 NFL season. We'll look back now at some of the plays that made the 2008 New York Giants offense a force to be reckoned with.
Halfback Off Tackle was a key run play in the Giants 2008 playbook. Run out of the I-Formation, the Giants were able to run this because of the great seals created by the guards and tackles. More often than not, it was a run to the right side which allowed the Giants to "pull" LG Rich Seubert to the right side to help pick up blocks on the perimeter.
Given Jacobs foot speed, power, and elusiveness, most of the time this play was good for 5 or 6 yards a pop. About once a game with this play, Jacobs would break off a big 30, 40 yard run which set up easy scoring drives for the G-Men. HB Off Tackle is a simple yet extremely effective play that worked very well for the 2008 Giants.
With the Giants great offensive line, playcalling and decisions on the field become very easy for the coaching staff and the skill players. The Halfback Screen is no different. Run out of various one back and shotgun sets, the HB Draw is a simple play that can net huge potential yardage for the offense. Derrick Ward was often at the forefront of this. Given his great vision and balance, Ward was the recipient of most screen passes.
Quarterback Eli Manning sucked the defense in by holding onto the ball and then simply dumped it off to Ward in the flat. When the defense gets sucked in, this allows a few offensive linemen to leave their blocking assignment and get out in front of Ward to lead him down the field. Not only is the Giants O-Line big, but they are extremely athletic, allowing Ward a lot of running room. The HB screen is simple, yet with the Giants talent at Running Back and their skilled O-Line, it can create big plays for the offense.
Our first look at a passing play, this was a bread and butter play for Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride especially when the Giants offense was in the red zone. The Giants make this play look sharp and crisp mostly everytime they ran it.
Run out of a one back, two tight end set, it involves a quick playaction fake from Eli Manning. This allows time for tight end Kevin Boss to get off his block and make his cut while being covered by the linebacker. The playfake draws the safeties up, leaving Boss in one on one coverage with the linebackers. This gives Manning all the room he needs to make a tight throw in the back of the endzone to his big target. This play was best utilized in their matchup with Pittsburgh, a tough aggressive defense which bit on the playfake.
Another weapon of the New York Giants passing attack is the Drag Route. Used most often in three and four receiver sets, these routes are run by the Giants physically smaller receivers like Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith. It allows them to run against the grain of traffic, hoping to pick defenders and get them into open space. Given the speed of Hixon and Smith, all Manning has to do is get the ball out in front of them so they can catch it and turn it up field.
As mentioned, the Giants passing attack is one chock full of short routes that can be turned into long gains, taking the pressure off of Manning and allowing his receivers to do the work for him. Using these underneath and drag routes, it is yet another example of simple but effective playcalling in the Giants passing game to go along with their great running attack.
The Halfback Draw is a play that in years past has been a Giant failure for New York's offense. However, it is now one of the biggest and most silent weapons the Giants have. Run out of a shotgun, one back set, the Giants offense has become seemingly better at running draws. Over the years, it has been telegraphed by the coaching staff that a draw is coming. Now with the talent at running back and the cohesive offensive line, it has become much easier to run draws with success.
When Manning takes the snap out of the shotgun, he holds the ball for a second making the linebackers and safeties sit back for a second. When the ball is handed off, this gives the running backs like Derrick Ward to get a head start at the line before the linebackers and safeties can get a running start. It allows Ward to get a head of steam and speed hitting the line while the back 7 of the defense is still flat footed. It's a great way to shake up an opposing defense and if used sparingly, can often set up for a big run. The Giants have used this more often over the last few years and it has become increasingly more effective.