Firstly, good luck to Kevin Boss in Oakland. He’s a good guy that played hard and took a ton of hard hits for the Giants and their fans. Best of luck to him.
But now that Boss is officially done in NY – there is a hole at starting TE for the fist time since Jeremy Shockey was sidelined back in 2007. And now the torch has been passed to 3rd year TE / H-Back Travis Beckum. Fortunately, Beckum has been getting all kinds of reps with the first team since Boss has been absent due to free agency negotiations, and word on the street is Beckum has been nothing short of impressive.
On using Beckum full time, Tom Coughlin had this to say of his abilities:
“We’ve blocked him inside from the fullback positon this camp, we’ve put him on the edge and done that with him, and we’ve lined him up at the point. He has a special skill set, if you will, and we’d certainly like to take advantage of that skill set.”
From the initial sound of it, it doesn’t sound like Beckum is going to be THAT much of liability when left in as a blocker. When Boss went out with a concussion week 1 last season, Beckum clearly was not up to the task in terms of blocking. But Coughlin says that’s been remedied this year.
“He had a couple of nice blocks down in the green zone last night that were pretty physical.”
Beckum on the other hand would prefer to continue catching balls, keep the defense guessing and move around, play different positions and get out in space quickly:
“It’s something that I’ve been doing since about my sophomore year in college, moving from the backfield to the slot. I think that’s when I’m at my best, when they get me out moving, in space.”
I see this as an opportunity for the Giants to finally be forced into utilizing this TE as a passing threat first, blocker second — like Eli Manning’s brother utilizes Dallas Clark in Indianapolis. There’s little time for Eli and Beckum to get quite that acclimated to a whole new playbook, but after re-watching the Jacksonville Jaguars game from last season, both TE’s Boss and Beckum had huge second half performances when the Giants thinned out group of receivers (exception Mario Manningham) weren’t getting it done offensively. In fact, the Giants offense came on even stronger with the TE’s getting out into space instead of being left in to block…. something the Giants do more than any other team in the NFL. Unnecessarily so in fact. Eli was getting the ball out quicker, the running game came on a lot stronger, and the Giants looked like a well oiled machine with Eli spreading the ball around to all his options almost effortlessly.
Boss leaving could be addition by subtraction — the Giants will be forced to adjust their scheme and call more plays with Beckum as a receiver than they ever have before. Eli would have more options in space, could lead to far less interceptions, and to clear the zone for Beckum we’re going to see more and more deep routes from Nicks and Manningham while Hixon and Cruz work underneath. Then once again, here comes the run game… effectively stretching the field and the defense to its breaking point.
This is all a fantasy for now — but mark my words Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride had an opportunity here to fully develop this offense into a dynamic force to be reckoned with. Eli’s numbers have gone up dramatically in yardage and touchdowns every year since Burress left, this year may an even further punctuation on that trend. Boss leaving is a challenge, not question. But with Beckum, the Giants have a unique opportunity to not only meet past production on offense, but surpass it.