Giants ’14 success falls on Eli Manning’s right arm
This off season has been nothing but re-tooling the machine for the New York Football Giants. Last season was horrifying for Giants fans, and almost every game (including wins) had it’s “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment. QB Eli Manning was the face of those moments (literally, just Google the memes), and with good reason. His NFL leading 27 interceptions were the result of a terrible passing season, more so than any other year of his Super Bowl winning career.
Manning also finished the season with just 18 touchdowns, which is the first time he’s finished a season with under 21 touchdowns since his rookie year. With the moves made in free agency including multiple offensive line signings, and a draft that included some key offensive picks it is clear what Giants GM Jerry Reese, and head coach Tom Coughlin are trying to do.
Help Eli bounce back.
New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, previously the Green Bay Packers QB coach, is implementing his west coast scheme. One that will replace the Kevin Gilbride system that Manning played in most of his career. Gilbride’s scheme featured the option-route heavily, in which the receivers (and Manning) have the ultimate trust in each other to read the defensive coverage on the fly.
It worked for the most part, especially in 2011 where Manning would have his best season as a Giant: 4,933 yards, 29 tds, 16 int, 61.0 comp%, and a passer rating of 92.9. It would also result in Manning’s second Super Bowl win, and Super Bowl MVP on his resume. However in the last two seasons, that system would see a major decline. Between the ’08-’12 seasons Manning would have a streak of passing seasons with completion percentages at 60% or more. With injury prone star receivers (Yeah, you Mr. Nicks), offensive line problems, and miscommunication in the mix it’s easy to see why Manning’s streak would end.
Despite all the moves made, it’s quite simple with this team. Eli Manning is the focal point of this offense, and the coaching staff knows this. The Giants offseasons moves have hopefully provided the weapons on the offensive end that the team previously lacked. Specifically, the offensive line received a much needed upgrade with the signings of LG Geoff Schwartz, OT Charles Brown, and the drafting of rookie C Weston Richburg (who most believe will start sooner than later).
Manning’s passing game wasn’t just impacted by the lowly offensive line play; his game also suffered from the Giants 29th ranked rushing attack (83.3 ypg). With David Wilson still recovering from neck injury, and Andre Brown let go, moves had to be made. The Giants signed former Raiders RB Rashad Jennings was signed, who is coming off of an 733 yard, 6 touchdown season (on only 163 carries). Big Blue would also draft Boston College standout Andre Williams, a Heisman Finalist (2013 Doak Walker Award Winner), who will likely see extended playing time alongside Jennings.
Lastly the receiving core was re-tooled, with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. being the Giants 1st round pick. Beckham Jr. possesses the outside talent, and explosive play making that Eli Manning needs. He will most likely be used like Packers WR Randall Cobb, as Ben McAdoo’s scheme is all too familiar with that particular skill-set. Beckham Jr. will be joining a receiving core featuring his former LSU teammate Rueben Randle, and star receiver Victor Cruz. We’d also see the Giants bring back an old face, WR Mario Manningham.
The weapons have been put into place, and Ben McAdoo’s scheme is being studied. The change is a process, but for the Giants change is the answer. The G-Men without question needed improvements across the board, but as we’ll see, the success of this team will depend on the play of Eli Manning. Eli’s history has shown that when he’s provided with structure he can play at a high level … a championship level.