How the NY Giants' Offense Might Look Under New Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo

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How the NY Giants' Offense Might Look Under New Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo
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In a statement released by the New York Giants, newly hired offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo described his plans to transform the NFL’s 28th-ranked offense into "an up-tempo, attacking-style offense."

That's just fine with head coach Tom Coughlin, who is counting on the first-time offensive coordinator to infuse some new ideas to keep opposing defenses off-balance.

In the same statement announcing McAdoo's hire, Coughlin said:

Here’s what I expect. I think the players will respond to this. We’re going to try to compromise the system with what we have here. However, there will be change. And that change will be very positive and very well-received by our team and our players. And if our players are scrambling around to learn a new system—good. That’s another fire in their rear end.

Change certainly never hurt anyone and when you're talking about a broken offense, there's nowhere to go but up.

So let's look at the expectations of McAdoo in his first year and also try to get a glimpse into how he might base his offense using the Green Bay Packers, his previous team, as a starting point.

 

Repair the Quarterback and Develop His Backup 

As Eli Manning goes, so too does the Giants' offense. That's why the top priority is to help Manning recover from a nightmarish season in which his numbers not only were out of whack, but also one in which he could never find a comfort level in the pocket or with his receivers.  

Let's first be honest. The offensive line was a mess, which certainly didn't help matters. It didn’t help Manning that his quarterbacks coach last year, Sean Ryan, couldn't come up with ways to help Manning to adjust to what was going on in front of him.

That's why, by the way, the Giants might not be done yet reshuffling their assistant coaches, as Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News noted:

As I noted in my review of the passing game last month, Manning was often unable to step up into a clean pocket, an example of which you can see below from the first game against Washington.

NFL Game Rewind

In this frame, left tackle Will Beatty (circled) is beaten while guard David Diehl, whose left foot (red arrow) is in the pocket, is being pushed back by Washington nose tackle Barry Cofield.  

As a result, Manning has nowhere to step up and is seen throwing the ball off-balance—note the blue arrow pointing to the foot that should have come forward when he made his throw.  

When a quarterback throws off his back foot as often as Manning had to do this year, he sometimes loses that “touch” on the ball (because he’s putting as much “arm” into the pass as possible to compensate for the inability to gain some forward momentum on the pass).

The result? The ball usually sails on him, which is something we saw too often from Manning, who overthrew a number of receivers by a mile.

 

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
McAdoo's input will be key in helping fix Eli Manning (right) and in expediting the development of Ryan Nassib (center).

With McAdoo having had success with coaching quarterbacks at Green Bay—Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien are two who McAdoo quickly brought alonghe no doubt has a few ideas on how to help fix Manning's mechanics.

Ultimately it will be up to the quarterbacks coach to work with Manning on a daily basis, but as McAdoo develops the offense, it would not be far-fetched if he and Manning discuss various issues while watching film this offseason.  

That topic almost certainly came up during McAdoo’s meeting with Coughlin, who clearly liked what he heard:

Think about what they overcame this year in Green Bay. One of them (Matt Flynn) wasn’t even on their roster to start the season. And they still got in the playoffs. We beat them when Tolzien was in there. Then Flynn came in and they won a critical, critical game with him at quarterback in Dallas. They lost to the Steelers when they could have cushioned their opportunity a little bit. The ball was down in close and it just got away from them. But then they beat Chicago.

I mentioned the development of Tolzien, who completed 55 of 90 pass attempts for 717 yards and one touchdown while throwing five interceptions.

That McAdoo was able to get Tolzien ready to step in and play fairly well against the Giants despite extremely limited experience certainly had to be appealing to the Giants.

That's because they were unable to get Ryan Nassib, the fourth-round draft pick for whom they traded up to get last year, ready for a backup role late in the season—a disappointment considering what the team invested to acquire Nassib.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Three-wide Receiver Sets

A favorite personnel formation in Green Bay during McAdoo's time there was the use of one tight end and three wide outs. Here’s a breakdown of how many times the Packers used that formation on first, second and third downs:

Green Bay Packers: Use of Three-wides (2013)
Down No. Plays No. Times 3-Wides Used Number of Runs/ % from 3-WR set)
First 482 291 125
Second 363 247 84
Third 217 177 31
TOTALS 1,062 715 (67.3 %) 240 (33.5%)

NFL GSIS (login required)

The Giants used a fair amount of three-wides, as the numbers show below. However, they didn’t use it quite as often as the Packers:

New York Giants: Use of Three-wides (2013)
Down No. Plays No. Times 3-Wides Used Number of Runs/ % from 3-WR set)
First 440 175 47
Second 326 169 54
Third 211 160 14
TOTALS 977 504 (51.5%) 115 (22.8%)

NFL GSIS (login required)

Although the Packers, like the Giants, favored the three-wide set for the majority of their plays on offense, Green Bay was a little more diverse in terms of running different plays from that formation.  

For example, in the first table, note that Green Bay ran the ball on first down 42.9 percent of the time from the three-wide set.

The Giants (as shown in the second table) only ran the ball 26.8 percent of the time, which indicates that play-calling by Green Bay was more diverse.

 

The Running Game

Regardless of who the offensive coordinator would have been, the Giants obviously are going to need a much improved offense line not only to protect Manning, but also to provide more options in the running game.

In Green Bay, starter Eddie Lacy, who finished with 1,178 yards on 284 carries, and his backup, James Starks, found success no matter what hole they attacked.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
The role of the running backs like Andre Brown could expand to include being used more as a receiver out of the backfield.

The same couldn’t be said of the Giants' running game, which, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required) recorded its best per-rush average (5.3 yards per carry) through the left guard's spot.  

One of the problems the Giants offense routinely faced in 2013 was that it often found itself in long yardage (six or more yards) on second and third downs.  

According to a query search done on Pro Football Reference, of the Giants' 440 first-down plays, they failed to gain at least five yards on 34.7 percent—and that’s not including the plays in which they gained at least five yards but were pushed back due to a penalty.

With long yardage situations seemingly the norm for the Giants last year, their options on second and third down often became predictable, allowing defenses that had done their homework on the Giants' tendencies to accurately predict the plays.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
In 2013, the Packers offense utilized its fullback, John Kuhn, as a running back in certain formations.

The other aspect of the running game out in Green Bay that wasn't used as much by the Giants is calling on the running backs to be receivers out of the backfield. 

Lacy, Starks and fullback John Kuhn combined for 58 receptions for 427 yards and one touchdown.

The Giants' trio of Andre Brown, Peyton Hillis and fullback John Conner combined for 39 receptions for 230 yards.

If McAdoo is looking to expand the offense’s options, a viable receiving threat out of the backfield will certainly be necessary.

Whether that threat is David Wilson (assuming he is able to play next season after having neck surgery on Jan. 16) or someone still to be decided, this added dimension could be key in helping to draw linebackers in closer during coverage, thereby creating soft spots for the shorter throws to work.

 

Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.

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