Every time the Giants' offense is mentioned, people are inclined to think about a power running game, and rightfully so.
Power running is what the Giants are all about; it's what they have always been about.
In the NFL though, defenses respect balance: The ability to both run the ball and throw the ball at any given time.
As the 2008 season drew to a close, the Giants lacked that balance. None of the young receivers (or veterans for that matter) emerged as a reliable target for Eli Manning.
That said, the Giants continued to employ their "power running" strategy to no avail. Teams were able to stuff the Giants' running game at will.
So to all you "power running game" apologists, I’m going to offer up an "I’m sorry" beforehand.
The Giants need to spread it out and air it out in 2009.
With both Hixon and Smith entering their third seasons, Sinorice Moss reportedly progressing rapidly, and the addition of the physical Hakeem Nicks, it is imperative that the Giants force defenses to respect them from day one. Their best chance at doing so is utilizing all of the aforementioned receivers together.
In 2008, the Giants were afforded the luxury of running out of two tight end formations (and other power formations) while facing seven man fronts.
The skill sets that all of the Giants current receivers bring to the table will be amplified as they line up next to one another.
The speed of Domenik Hixon and Sinorice Moss, the route running skills (and even the speed) of Steve Smith, and the physicality of Hakeem Nicks will all work better as two or more of them face nickel and dime corners as well as zone coverage.
The best part of all of this is the degree to which using these receivers together will amplify the running game.
Draw plays, sweeps, and even dive plays from single-back sets will all be more effective with three and four receivers on the field. Teams must respect the skills of the receivers out there if they hope not to get burned.
By no means am I suggesting that the Giants abandon the running game, I am simply stating that both the running game and passing game will be better out of more three and four wide receiver sets as opposed to two tight end sets.
Don’t believe this will work? Take a look at the San Diego Chargers.
Once upon a time they were entirely predicated on a Ladainian Tomlinson running game, then they put the ball in the hands of Phillip Rivers and like magic, with no real notable receivers spare Antonio Gates, the Charger offense became a passing offense.
What really sparked this thinking process was the fact that 2009 is Eli's contract year.
If the Giants are really going to make Eli the league's highest paid player (and trust me, they are) they must put the ball in his hands. Eli must be afforded the opportunity to prove that he is worth it with no restrictions whatsoever.
In the sunny months of September and October, it is absolutely imperative that the Giants shake the stigma which says that they can’t throw the ball. Once they do that, they can go about their merry way pounding Jacobs into the heart of defenses in December and January.
There are bigger things going on here than what philosophy best defines the Giants over the course of their history.
Jerry Reese and The Maras are sitting on a 28 year old quarterback who has lead their team to the playoffs four years in a row, won a Super Bowl, and made a Pro Bowl, but still has so much to prove.
Even before the 2004 Draft, The Maras were losing sleep over whether or not to pick Manning. Accorsi demanded it, but John Mara proved a road block. The debate raged on like fire within the organization for almost a year prior to the 2004 Draft.
In one of the organizations most defining moments of all time, the Giants traded for Manning. They traded a lot for him.
Now the story has come full circle, and if Eli does not perform like the best player in the league in 2009, the Maras may lose even more sleep at the prospect of forking over $120 million to an average player.
To conclude, not only does opening the passing game up offer more options offensively, it is a must in an underlying plot to determine how much longer Eli Manning will be the face of the New York Giants.
The Maras have been running a franchise for over 85 years, they know what they are doing.
As for Jerry Reese, we already know based on his small body of work that he is one of the best there is.
That said, the organization knows that the Giants are a very young team whose window is opening, not closing.
2009 is about one thing, and one thing only: Determining the value of Manning.
With that in mind, my ideas about the offense are not so much a suggestion as they are a warning of what is about to happen.
There are always underlying plots within organizations which we don't know about as fans. But fear not, the "underlying plot" of determining Manning's value will soon rise to the surface.
Like usual, Manning seems un-phased by these serious circumstances.
We are about to find out if that’s because he has a quiet confidence which none of us can understand, or if he is too dumb to understand what exactly is going on here.
All I know is, whenever the chips have been down in his career, it’s been the quiet confidence which emerged.
Speaking of chips, mine are all in on Manning.