Giants team President John Mara didn’t mince words when he labeled the offensive unit “broken” following a grisly 2013 season. His assessment was 100% on the money, and Big Blue Nation applauded him for speaking the unpleasant truth. Now let’s flashback and re-paint the picture… In a nutshell, the Giants of yesteryear were a concoction of middling talent, offensive line injuries and a predictable scheme. The results? 18.4 points per game (28th), 307.5 total yards per game (28th) and 83.2 rush yards per game (29th). While we readily acknowledge that stats can leave out large chunks of the story, let’s examine a four-pack of statistical measures that highlight the Giants shortcomings from a year ago. Knowledge is power!
“Green” Zone TD Percentage
47.22%, 30th in the NFL
The Giants play calling inside the red zone — best described as conservative and at times nonsensical — has long been a source of tumult for their fans. But in 2013 the personnel didn’t aid matters, and we witnessed a whole new level of futility as the Giants success rate dropped 7.52% from 2012.
Potential Fix: Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t profile as the prototypical outside receiver, but his aggressive ball skills should pay dividends inside the 20. Rueben Randle has the size to be impactful here, but does he have the refinement?
Third-Down Conversion Rate
Negative first down runs and QB sacks left the Giants in far too many unmanageable down and distance situations. The offensive line couldn’t block and Eli Manning frequently exacerbated their shortcomings with dreadful decision making. As a point of reference, the Giants converted at a rate of 40.62% during the 2012 season.
Potential Fix: Predictability only works for the elite. And despite their offseason improvements, the Giants are not at that level. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo possesses the creative pedigree to keep defenses off balance — it’s time to OPEN THE PLAYBOOK.
Rushing First Down Percentage
The Giants have found success in recent seasons (prior to 2013) rolling out a pass-heavy offense. However, there’s a difference between a preference for airing it out and an outright inability to run the football. The Giants need to return to some semblance of ugly, smashmouth ball took take pressure off an aging Eli. For comparison sake, over 38% of the Eagles’ first downs were achieved via the ground game.
Potential Fix: HOPE. As in “hope” the offensive line can open a few creases, because if they do–Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams have the patience and vision to milk yardage.
The Giants standing in this category isn’t abysmal per say, but when taking into account their 3.58% rate from 2012… it’s suddenly a stunning figure. They were a mash unit in the trenches and Eli was shellshocked from constant pressure. “Drive killer” was the announcing lingo of choice on too many Sunday afternoons.
Potential Fix: Justin Pugh moves to left tackle and develops a mean streak under the tutelage of newcomer Geoff Schwartz. J.D. Walton handles his business under center, and rookie Weston Richburg slides into right guard. Easy, no?
Fix 1: Behind solid snap count, OBJ plays with the same reckless abandon attacking the football he showed at LSU. He has Steve Smith-like talent in a bigger frame.
Fix 2: First-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo doesn’t lose creativity in a more prominent role. Giants need a more versatile attack and less predictable, more modern playbook.
Fix 3: Run the football because it works, not because balance is an infatuation of coach Coughlin.
Fix 4: New entities on the offensive line gel quickly. Justin Pugh takes the next step as a sophomore with the responsibility of protecting Eli Manning’s blindside. Rookie Weston Richburg emerges in the summer months and takes over at RG.
The above statistical failures all go hand in hand, and all stem from the shoddy performance level of the “big uglies” up front. If you can block, you can run. If you can run, you slow the pass rush. If the pass rush slows, more manageable third down opportunities. Will the new faces on the offensive front reverse the Giants’ fortunes? They hold the keys to the Jints playoff aspirations in their wide mitts.