Examining the New-Look Giants Offense 1 Game into the 2014 Preseason

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibition NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

The New York Giants won't officially "unveil" their new-look offense until they take on the Detroit Lions in their Monday Night Football opener on September 8, but we did get our first real-game look at offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's approach Sunday night in Canton, Ohio.

We've had a chance to watch the tape from that 17-13 Hall of Fame Game victory over the Buffalo Bills more closely, and here's where things stand.


What We Saw

For starters, we saw an offense that moved at a much swifter rate than usual. The opening play was a bit of a mess, with Eli Manning and his offensive cohorts appearing confused:

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From that point forward, though, the pre-snap procedure was clean, efficient and—most interestingly—fast.

The Giants aren't moving at the speed of Chip Kelly's offense, but under former coordinator Kevin Gilbride, Football Outsiders ranked this unit below the league average in terms of time elapsed between plays.

Expect that to change this season, because New York consistently getting plays off with 10-plus seconds to spare. 

You could also see the Giants getting into a groove and keeping the Buffalo defense on its heels while running the no-huddle offense on that second drive. How often do you see the Giants snap the ball with this much time on the play clock?

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In terms of the running game, we saw more power and a higher emphasis on pounding the ball with new arrivals Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams.

The backs carried the offense, which is something we haven't seen in New York very often in the last few years.

Speaking of things we hadn't seen much under Gilbride, the screen game made some appearances. Jennings had three catches for 20 yards out of the backfield:

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We also saw McAdoo become creative with his no-name group of tight ends. Larry Donnell, who has to be viewed as the leader of the pack by a very small margin right now, motioned into the backfield on several occasions early as the Giants continually tweaked personnel groupings and formations:

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Was that the result of mixing and matching in order to gauge results in the preseason, or was it a preview of what we're going to get all season? That remains a mystery.


What We Didn't See

It was more about who we didn't see, because left tackle Will Beatty and highly touted wide receiver Odell Beckham (12th overall in 2014) were both out of the lineup due to injury.

Former top pick David Wilson was also missing from the backfield, but ESPN.com reports that'll be the case indefinitely now that the injured Wilson will be shut down for the seasonmaybe for good. Besides, the running game fared quite well regardless.

While it was nice that Manning completed six of his seven passes in what appears to be a significantly more quarterback-friendly offense, he didn't take a single chance.

Sure, that 70 percent completion rate was reached, but only one of Manning's seven passes traveled more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage and none went for more than seven yards. Three of his passes didn't get back to the line of scrimmage.


What We Still Need to See

The offense has to excel against starters. In their first two series against a very stout Buffalo defensive front, the Giants went three-and-out and then fumbled on a play in which the protection broke down early:

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Meanwhile, the running game went nowhere during those first two drives, with Jennings failing to get back to the line of scrimmage on both of his attempts:

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New York can't baby Manning throughout the preseason. Eventually, he'll have to prove that he can make some throws against first-team defenders.

Folks were blown away by the pace, but the offense can go faster than that, and I'd expect to see more no-huddle as the players become more comfortable with everything McAdoo is doing.

In the coming weeks, we'd like to see Manning make some more big-boy throws while going no-huddle on an opening drive.

That's how these new-age offenses are bullying their counterparts, and it's something the veteran Manning can absolutely manage if the running game continues to excel in a supporting role.


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFC East for Bleacher Report since 2012.