Former Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo has been the offensive coordinator in New York for the past two seasons. This year, they elevated him to head coach following the dismissal of longtime coach Tom Coughlin.
McAdoo calls the plays offensively, and his version of the West Coast offense calls for quick hitters in the passing game, getting the ball out of the hands of quarterback Eli Manning quickly and on rhythm. This reduces the pass blocking stress on a so-so offensive line.
Unlike their championship teams of 2007 and 2011, they do not have a stout offensive line. At Minnesota, this quick passing game was as much necessity as it was standard scheme for the Giants.
Having said that, Manning has been protected for the most part having been sacked just four times, none Monday night at Minnesota, and hit only nine times in four games.
The Giants got off to a fast start with victories at Dallas and over New Orleans, but you could see some of the chinks in the armor when they blew a lead and lost to the Washington Redskins at home week three. Then Monday night, they did well just to hang-in against a Vikings team that is playing at an extremely high level defensively.
As I said, this team is keyed by Manning and in the first two games he was very good with three touchdown passes to just one interception. His passer rating was 110.3 in the opener and 104.1 against the Saints.
But in the past two games he had just one TD pass and three picks. His passer marks have been 82.1 and 63.3. As Eli goes, so go the Giants.
The Giants spent lavishly in free agency to rebuild their once-vaunted defense which was statistically the worst in the NFL a year ago, allowing almost three hundred yards of passing per game.
GM Jerry Reese guaranteed $92.5 million for three defensive players; end Olivier Vernon from the Dolphins, cornerback Janoris Jenkins from the Rams and defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison from the Jets.
They have made a positive impact as the Giants, through a quarter of the campaign, have given up almost a touchdown less per game this season. They rank 11th in yardage and 9th against the run.
But they have a lot of new faces, and this defense will take time to develop the kind of cohesiveness needed to be successful in the NFL.
The Giants have been the league’s most injury riddled team over the past two seasons, and thus they changed their training staff. They hired strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman whose forward-thinking ways focus on movement combined with change in players’ in-season schedule to optimize rest and recovery customized to each player.
So far it hasn’t worked; the Giants especially in the secondary have endured numerous injuries in the first month of the campaign.
Those injuries could have major implications in Sunday night’s game in Green Bay.