It'll be a while before we can get a proper feel for what exactly the New York Giants offense will look like with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo running the show. The Giants don't even start organized team activities for several months, and McAdoo has never been a coordinator or a play-caller before.
Things were a lot more predictable when Kevin Gilbride took over, because Gilbride was a grizzled veteran of a coach who ran an offense with tenets that he and head coach Tom Coughlin generally shared.
Coughlin will likely want to retain some of those basic philosophies moving forward, because he's an offensive coach and he's the boss, but it's clear McAdoo will have a chance to leave his mark on this unit.
"We're going to try to compromise the system with what we have here,'' Coughlin said this week, according to Newsday. "However, there will be change. And that change will be very positive and very well received by our team. And if our players are scrambling around to learn a new system, good. That's another fire in their rear end."
Some thoughts on what those changes might look like...
It'll probably be faster
We're not breaking any major news here, since McAdoo touched specifically on the tempo during his introductory press conference.
"We're going to be an up-tempo, attacking-style offense,'' he said, per Newsday. "We're going to play with good energy."
Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements certainly had more control over the Green Bay offense than McAdoo did as the quarterbacks coach, but the Packers operated at the seventh-fastest pace in the league last year in games that were within six points, according to Football Outsiders. And in all situations, they moved faster than the Giants, who were below average in terms of the time it took them to snap the ball.
|No huddle offense, 2012|
|Perc. of no-huddle snaps|
|Green Bay Packers||22%|
|New York Giants||2%|
|Compiled from play by play data provided by Football Outsiders|
Watch for more no huddle and a faster pace in general, which jibes with current trends in order to take advantage of defensive mismatches, many of which can be found in the defensively challenged NFC East.
It'll probably feature West Coast tendencies
McCarthy runs a system with plenty of aspects of the West Coast offense, so expect McAdoo to implement some of those features in New York. That could mean we see more short, horizontal passing routes for Eli Manning, which is something many fans have been clamoring for.
Year after year, and regardless of the circumstances, Manning has thrown deep more often than Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay—a trend well-documented by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Manning won't stop taking deep shots, but they might come less often. That could be a good thing, considering that he's thrown 22 interceptions on passes of 20 yards or more the last four years.
It'll probably be more quarterback-friendly
One stat I believe says a lot about how much a coaching staff is helping its quarterback is this one:
|Most yards after catch, 2013|
|1. Denver Broncos||2751|
|2. New Orleans Saints||2576|
|3. Detroit Lions||2392|
|4. Green Bay Packers||2344|
|Fewest yards after catch, 2013|
|29. New York Giants||1579|
|30. San Francisco 49ers||1411|
|31. New York Jets||1398|
|32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1151|
Obviously a lot goes into yards after the catch, and Green Bay's receiving corps probably have a little more speed and elusiveness than New York's. Still, much of it is indicative of the scheme, and how much that scheme is making things easier on the quarterback.
Gilbride didn't make things easy on Manning. The personnel didn't help, but this offense has to get with the times and start throwing more shotgun screens, more underneath routes. Remember how much Philip Rivers was struggling in 2011 and 2012? Mike McCoy fixed him by implementing easier-to-throw routes and shorter drops.
That might be something McAdoo can bring to New York, either because it's familiar from Green Bay or because he has a fresh set of eyes.
Going back again to 2012, McAdoo, Clements and McCarthy had Rodgers work out of shotgun 66 percent of the time. And, anecdotally, it looked as though that number was probably even higher in 2013. By comparison, the Giants were in shotgun only 46 percent of the time.
|Percentage of snaps in shotgun, 2012|
|Green Bay Packers||66|
|New York Giants||46|
|Compiled from play-by-play data at Football Outsiders|
That extra space helps, especially if we're dealing with more short, timing-based routes behind an offensive line that isn't exactly adept at protecting the passer.
The Packers also made things easier on the passing game by running the ball more on first down. They ran it 53 percent of the time in that situation in 2013, according to Pro Football Reference, which was above the league average of 51 and well above New York's first-down running percentage of 46.
|Runs on first down, 2013|
|Green Bay Packers||53%|
|New York Giants||46%|
|Pro Football Reference|
The play-calling in Green Bay was simply more diverse, especially on early downs, which can take some heat off the quarterback.
Yet it'll probably still need more from Eli Manning
"So much of what the Packers do," B/R NFC North lead writer Zach Kruse told me by email Friday, "relies on the quarterback position."
We all know that was the case when Gilbride ran things for Manning and this offense, so it won't likely change a whole lot here. Sure, Manning could benefit from shorter drops as well as shorter and quicker route concepts, but he's still going to be asked to take shots on play-action fakes, which was a common theme for Rodgers in Green Bay.
He'll still have to make big throws, and he'll still have to curtail that interception rate of 4.9 percent, which was worst in the NFL in 2013.
The key: It'll definitely be different
And as Coughlin mentioned, that could light a fire under a team that had fallen into an offensive rut under the stubborn, archaic, unimaginative offense Gilbride had in place.
The transition might not happen overnight, especially after a decade of the same thing, but a team that has missed the playoffs four of the last five years and led the NFL in turnovers while finishing 28th in scoring has very little to lose.