5 Things We Learned from the Giants' Offseason Workouts
The New York Giants wrapped up their offseason program and will now break for about four weeks, until July 21 when the players must report to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the start of training camp.
This offseason has been a very busy and interesting one, what with a new offensive coordinator, many new faces and, most importantly, a lot of hope that head coach Tom Coughlin’s team is going to be able to bounce back from a disappointing 7-9 season last year.
As we officially put the wraps on this part of the offseason, let’s look back at some of the things we learned from the various OTAs, minicamps and other events that have helped shape this team.
Don’t forget to stay tuned to Bleacher Report, as I’ll be turning my efforts in the coming weeks toward getting you ready for the start of training camp.
There's Still No Leader in the Tight End Race
Quite often, you can gain a sense of who is in the lead at a certain position simply by taking note of how many snaps the individuals involved in the race get with the starting unit.
In the case of the Giants tight ends, there is no such leader, as every day it was a different guy taking his turn with the starting unit.
Both Coughlin and tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride confirmed that right now, no one from a group consisting of Adrien Robinson, Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell, Xavier Grimble and Kellen Davis has pulled ahead of the competition.
“Pretty much it’s another day-by-day,” Coughlin said of the position. “Somebody will do something well one day and then someone else on another day.”
“It's fully open right now to all five guys,” added Gilbride.
Early on, Robinson seemed to be one of the favorites in the competition. It certainly didn’t hurt his status that he is a fourth-round pick from the 2012 draft.
However, Robinson has been inconsistent in the roles he’s been asked to play. While he’s done well at the receiving end, he’s had more than a couple of whiffs in the blocking department.
That’s probably why Gilbride is leaving the door wide open in this race.
“Whoever can step in and play the role the best way, that is the way we need to go. We're not worried about who was drafted where, who was just signed in the offseason, who is a rookie. None of that matters."
The Injury Bug Refuses to Take a Rest
For the third year in a row, the Giants saw a key player suffer an injury during a non-contact drill.
This time it was starting middle linebacker Jon Beason, who landed awkwardly on his right foot during the second-to-last OTA. He ended up suffering a cracked sesamoid bone and ligament tear.
However, he’s still going to be sidelined for at least 12 weeks, which means that he’ll almost certainly be starting training camp on the PUP list.
There are two silver linings to Beason’s injury, other than the fact that he doesn’t need surgery.
The first is that by the time training camp begins, he should be able to put weight on his injured leg, which, per an official announcement by the team, will have to be immobilized for three weeks in a cast and then another three weeks in an orthopedic boot.
The other is that unlike the losses of Hynoski and Nicks, the Giants appear to have guys who can fill the void until Beason returns, most notably Jameel McClain, who has brought his own unique style of energy to the huddle and who has experience with getting everyone lined up.
There will also be other opportunities for younger guys to see some action. Rookie Devon Kennard has had a strong spring, and undrafted free agent Dan Fox seems to be in line to receive an increase in snaps this summer.
The Defense Is Cranking Up Its Game
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has never been afraid to experiment with different personnel combinations and looks.
And why not? He’s been fortunate enough to have players who are multidimensional in their talents, which in turn allows him to be that creative.
For example, we saw defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who worked exclusively with his hand in the dirt last season, doing some stand-up work as the "joker" linebacker.
We've also seen past instances where Fewell has trotted out some 3-4 looks, though that hasn't been the case as much this year.
He has a much-improved defensive secondary that he said has him “very much excited” after seeing how the new faces have gelled with those returning.
His linebacker unit, once the Achilles' heel of the defense, has even begun to turn the corner thanks to the arrivals of Beason last year, McClain this year and the drafting of Devon Kennard to go along with Spencer Paysinger, who continues to develop into a quality NFL linebacker.
The improved personnel, if healthy, should go a long way toward helping Fewell’s unit—which finished eighth in yards allowed per game last year—ascend even higher.
“I like those new tools we’ve got,” he told reporters while grinning from ear to ear. “We came up with a lot of philosophies, some base philosophies. We’ll let you see the schemes in the fall.”
The Backup Quarterback Job Is Ryan Nassib's to Lose
Usually during the spring, the coaches like to get as many players as they can practice reps so that by the time training camp opens, they have a good idea as to who is going to line up where on the depth chart.
That really hasn't been the case though at quarterback, as behind starter Eli Manning, second-year man Ryan Nassib has been taking the bulk of the practice reps.
Nassib has had his ups and downs. He clearly knows what to do and has had little trouble directing the offense, but he's had some difficulty making the throws he needs to make.
Still, the coaches have been encouraged by what they have seen from the former Syracuse signal caller.
“I think he’s done a great job, especially in our no-huddle periods of just being able to get guys lined up, whether we’re in a two-minute situation or whatever situation we’ve been in he’s done a great job of just getting us in a correct formation, getting us lined up,” quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf told reporters.
Langsdorf agreed that Nassib’s lack of consistency in his execution is his biggest problem right now.
“He’s just got to keep working on executing, whether it’s a throw or timing with the receivers, he’s just got to continue to work with those guys but he’s been very good to this point in terms of studying and learning.”
When camp opens up in a month, Nassib is probably going to continue to get a lot of chances to work on all of that.
Ben McAdoo Is Growing into His Role as Offensive Coordiantor
The Giants haven't been shy about rolling the dice on up-and-coming young assistant coaches during Tom Coughlin's tenure.
Anyone remember how in 2007 they took a gamble on a little-known guy by the name of Steve Spagnuolo, who had never before been a defensive coordinator, but he came in and took the NFL by storm with his creative ideas, passion and energy?
Fast forward seven years later and the Giants are hoping to have similar success with Ben McAdoo, who's in his first season as an NFL offensive coordinator.
So far, McAdoo has made a positive impression on Coughlin.
“He’s exactly what I thought when we hired him. He’s a hard worker, driven, his priorities are what they should be. He works long and hard at his trade,” Coughlin said.
“I think he’s a good communicator. The other coaches that we brought in and the idea of everyone working together, I think that’s been accomplished and I think everyone’s on the same page. We just have to make some progress (with the offense)."
McAdoo has in fact been the perfect Coughlin assistant in that he refused to spend much time answering questions about himself in his first face-to-face meeting with reporters.
"I’m not spending a bunch of time worrying about myself," he said. "I like to do what I can and lead by… leadership through service is probably the best way to go. Do what I can do to help the coaches and the players around me."
All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.