As the old cliché goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the New York Giants’ new offense won't be, either.
The good news is there’s progress being made every day, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.
What is the most exciting thing about the new Giants offense?
“Well, it’s a lot of new calls, a lot of new offensive structure,” Coughlin said in response to my question. “Whether they’re veterans or not, they’ve been in there scrambling to learn it the way that we want to communicate it. But it’s coming. I saw progress this week.”
That’s certainly good news for the Giants, who are hoping that by the time they get to their veteran minicamp that starts on June 17, they can begin running things a little faster and with fewer errors.
As a reminder, there are no pads in these practices and hence no contact, which means the plays are not being run full speed.
Here is a look at some of the impressions I came away with after OTA No. 6.
The Next Secret Superstar
For all the of talk and concern about the tight end position, you certainly wouldn’t know it based on how offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is proceeding.
In fact, the tight end position has been very prominently featured in this offense so far, used in new ways and in new formations that we haven’t seen in a Tom Coughlin team before.
For instance, there was Kellen Davis starting in-line and then motioning back to the fullback spot to form an "I" behind the quarterback.
Daniel Fells, who looked good catching the few passes thrown his way, lined up in the slot. Adrien Robinson, meanwhile, was split out wide on one play.
Yes, even the dreaded draw play that frustrated so many Giants fans in the past saw the tight ends moving around. And wouldn’t you know it, but the one draw play I saw them run was successful.
Coughlin, by the way, said he’s been pleased with the progress made by Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell, the two tight ends with the most seniority as Giants.
“I think he’s done a really good job in terms of just learning,” Coughlin said of Robinson. “Again, not many mental errors. I’ve been really impressed with that.
“Donnell, the same way. They’ve picked it up. They’re out there, they seem to be much more natural, not a lot of plodding. It seems like they have grasped what we want done, and let’s just hope they keep going. That’s all you can do.”
I spoke to Donnell, who I think is flying under the radar during OTAs, about his progress so far this spring. He told me that having to miss last spring’s workouts because of a broken foot really set him back.
“That was tough, not being able to do anything other than sit there and watch,” he said of the offseason program in which he was a spectator. “I can’t really learn sitting there and watching and not doing it.”
So far, he and Robinson seem to be taking to this offense like a duck to water.
It’s no secret that the use of a traditional fullback is diminishing among teams in the NFL.
While I don’t believe the Giants are about to make the position go away, one thing I took note of in this practice is that the fullback was very rarely used in the 11-on-11s.
Now, it could be because the segment they were working on really didn’t call for the fullback all that much.
However, with the tight ends lining up all over the place for the offense, I wonder if it’s just a matter of time before the Giants do move away from carrying a traditional fullback in the future.
I tweeted during today’s practice that there is now a red line that spans from end zone to end zone, near the numbers.
I initially thought the line was to help the special teams gunners improve their field awareness, but the line is in fact a mechanism being used by new (old) receivers coach Sean Ryan to help the receivers with field awareness on those sideline throws and the fades.
My understanding is that once the receivers cross that red line, which is about five yards from the sideline, they need to make sure they’re aware of where they are on the field so that they don’t drift out of bounds.
I didn’t see many drills that made use of that red line, as they didn’t really run fades today, but it’s something to watch for in the future.
Weak is Strong, Strong is Weak
In a 2010 article, Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, then the Giants beat writer for The Star-Ledger, wrote a very good explanation of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s labeling of his linebackers.
I recommend you read the details, but one example I can give is that in Fewell’s defense, the weak-side linebacker usually has responsibility for the tight end.
I mention this because today, linebacker Spencer Paysinger, with whom I spoke for an upcoming article, told me that he’d been asked to play the strong-side position this year, the role previously held by Keith Rivers, who departed to Buffalo via free agency.
Jameel McClain, who was with Baltimore last year, is currently working on the weak side, the spot Paysinger shared last year with Jacquian Williams. Williams is currently the nickel linebacker.