Adjustments the New York Giants Must Make Post-Bye Week
After that review and some meetings, the players were not only dismissed until next Monday, they were encouraged by head coach Ben McAdoo to rest, reset and get away from what has been a nightmare season.
"I think we need to get away from it for a little bit," McAdoo said Monday.
"We need to clear our minds, get our bodies back and get back with a fresh outlook, as tough as that may be. We need to come back, we have a lot of football left to play. We had a lot of fight in us yesterday and that needs to continue."
Critics of the team might dispute that last statement about having a lot of fight. The sad truth is the severely undermanned and beat-up Giants stood by helplessly Sunday as the Seahawks came roaring back from a 7-0 deficit by scoring 24 unanswered points.
While the plan for the players is to allow them to heal physically and spiritually, the coaching staff will be hard at work trying to figure out what has gone so wrong in a season once filled with so much hope and aspirations for another Super Bowl trophy.
"With the type of week it is, we're going to go back, take a look—at self-scout, you know, the things that have been working," McAdoo said.
"Is there a way to (improve) some of the things that haven't been working? Is it fixable for the last nine games, or is it something that we need to throw out and revisit it later on? And just take a look at the way we're using players. Take a look at their roles we can change to help us as a football team."
What are some of the things the Giants can do to get things turned around? Read on for a few ideas.
Stick with the Running Game
Ever since the Giants made the change—necessitated due to injury, mind you—to the one-two punch of Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman, the running game has come alive and resulted in more of a balanced attack.
Last week was one of the exceptions. New York ran the ball just 17 times while passing it 39 times. What's interesting is that the Giants started to move away from the run as early as the third quarter when they were only down by a field goal.
According to the game summary for that quarter, the Giants ran 22 plays in the third quarter against the Seahawks, only six of which were running plays. Again, this was with a full quarter to go and down only by three.
Unfortunately, this has been a trend exhibited by the Giants on offense. It doesn't seem to matter if they are down by three points or 33—they seem quick to move away from the run in favor of the pass, and this is something they need to rethink moving forward.
It's one thing if the opponent makes the team one-dimensional, but when the team does it to itself despite being in a manageable situation and takes away the balance to keep the opposing defense guessing, that's sheer lunacy.
Get Shane Vereen More Involved
Speaking of running backs, if it appears Shane Vereen has been missing from the offense, that's because he has.
According to NFL Savant, the Giants have run 104 third-down plays so far this season. Vereen has been the primary ball-handler on just 11 of those plays.
Of those 11 plays, nine were third-and-long where the opposing defense was able to successfully anticipate what the Giants offense was going to run as far as personnel deployment was concerned.
If that's why the coaches have moved away from using Vereen as a ball-carrier or receiver, they might want to rethink the play selection they are asking him to execute.
The 28-year-old is at his best when he gets out into space, not when he's asked to run a draw or push it straight up the middle.
Perhaps as the season moves forward, this team might consider reintroducing Vereen into more of the offensive game plan.
Use All Their Tight Ends
As the Giants struggle to get their young receivers up to snuff in the passing game, it boggles the mind as to why they are not making more use of all their tight ends to help lessen the load.
Make no mistake about it, Evan Engram has been a godsend in helping the passing game. But it's just a matter of time before opposing defenses start to clamp down on him by jamming him every time he comes off the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the Giants have three other tight ends on the roster—Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse—who might be able to lend a hand in the passing game. Naturally, this might mean more 12 and 13 personnel, which would break with New York's preference.
Still, if the tight ends—who have been targeted 59 times (out of 260 pass attempts this year) with 39 receptions as a group—can give this team something in the passing game until the replacement receivers get up to speed, maybe then the offense can be put in a better position to extend drives.
Trade CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Yes, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is back in the good graces of the team. But after having a blowup with head coach Ben McAdoo, can both men put the past behind them?
Even if they can let bygones be bygones, with Rodgers-Cromartie due to count for $8.5 million against next year's cap, there's probably little chance he's back with the team in 2018.
With the Giants' season likely going nowhere this year, why not try to trade Rodgers-Cromartie before the trading deadline and get back at least the seventh-round pick they gave up to the Steelers to acquire cornerback Ross Cockrell at the end of training camp?
With so many needs looming for this Giants team, it wouldn't be a bad idea to add as many draft picks as possible by trading away guys who still have some value and who might draw a Day 3 selection in return.
Play More 3-Safety Looks
Unfortunately, the Giants linebackers have been dismal in coverage this year. Per Pro Football Focus, they have allowed 48 of 65 pass targets to be completed for 561 yards (342 yards after the catch) and four touchdowns.
Part of the reason has been injuries—Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson have each missed games while second-year man B.J. Goodson, who has also flirted with the injury bug, simply hasn't looked as sharp in coverage as he might have done in the preseason.
If the linebackers continue to struggle, then why not try running three safeties out there to help in coverage, rather than a third cornerback (since the Giants seem to have a drop-off at that cornerback spot with Rodgers-Cromartie banged up).
Perhaps then the opposing tight ends won't continue to run free behind the Giants linebackers who have looked lost at times this year when asked to play zone coverage.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.