It hit me on the final play for the first-team offense Saturday night, right after Eli Manning was sacked in super-familiar fashion within his own red zone. It's 3rd-and-long, and Ben McAdoo calls a draw to running back Rashad Jennings.
Punt, possession over. Goodnight, Eli. That's when I said it.
"Same old New York Giants."
This year is supposed to be different. This year, McAdoo, the new offensive coordinator hired to replace dinosaur Kevin Gilbride, is supposed to transform a Giants offense that for several years has been stuck in quicksand.
Remember that offense? The one led by Gilbride that routinely called inexplicable draw plays on third down, despite the fact Manning is one of the best big-play quarterbacks in the game? Saturday night, it felt as though it hadn't gone anywhere.
While it's been moving slightly faster and has enjoyed a rejuvenation in the running game thanks to the arrival of Jennings and Andre Williams, this offense simply hasn't done enough two weeks into the preseason to inspire renewed confidence from onlookers.
Through two games, Manning has yet to throw a pass that has traveled more than 12 yards. In fact, only two of his nine throws this preseason have cleared more than five yards in the air.
That first-team offense has run six series this preseason. Here's a summary:
|Giants First-Team Offense, 2014 Preseason|
|3||Touchdown||Manning throws just two passes|
|5||Touchdown||Manning throws zero passes|
On those two touchdown drives, it was all about the running game. Rookie Andre Williams carried the offense on that scoring drive against Buffalo, and the touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers came when Jennings took it 73 yards on the first play of the drive.
"We still could’ve executed better," said Manning after the game, according to the team's communications staff, "but that’s something we’ll look at on the film. ... I think we’ll try to learn from it and understand that it’s the preseason and not everything is going to be perfect. But we’ll definitely have some stuff to look at and to get better on a few things."
He's got that right.
Excluding that one Jennings run—which was abetted by some horrible tackling attempts from Pittsburgh defenders—the first-team offense averaged just 2.8 yards per play Saturday night. And although it's a small sample size, its veteran quarterback has averaged just 4.8 yards per pass attempt despite going 6-of-9.
At this same point last preseason, Manning had attempted 22 passes, completing 10 for 164 yards. This year, he's yet to show up—right when it matters most.
You can't blame Manning for the success of his running game, and again, the sample size is still too small for us to conclude that the passing game has failed. Instead, it's disappointing that McAdoo has yet to give Manning a chance to do anything of substance.
Excuses? They exist. We're only 40 percent of the way through a five-week preseason, and key cogs such as Will Beatty and Odell Beckham Jr. have been missing. Still, the first-team offense has taken just a single penalty on six series.
It hasn't been close to enough.
Maybe McAdoo and head coach Tom Coughlin are deliberately holding back, but that doesn't seem like a good idea considering how dramatic some of these changes are supposed to be. And if they're refusing to unveil the offense simply because it isn't ready for prime time, that's an even worse sign.
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