With the addition of wide receiver James Jones, the Giants have bolstered a passing attack that was already primed to be one of the best in the NFL. Jones, most recently of the Oakland Raiders, is coming off a career high in receptions with 73. Those 73 catches however netted Jones only 666 yards. This may not be an overly impressive number at face value but it is important to consider Jones was catching balls from rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
The best part about his arrival is he wont have to produce numbers like that to help the G-Men. Jones’ presence alone will ensure there is a mismatch somewhere on the field. In all honesty he can put up half of the numbers he did last season and still be a huge factor. He may be one of those guys whose value goes beyond the box score. In the event Victor Cruz doesn’t reclaim his pro-bowl form, Jones is a depth piece that that allows the Giants to essentially continue as usual. He can play on the outside while sliding either Rueben Randle or Odell Beckham Jr inside to the slot.
Nov 30, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver James Jones (89) is tackled by St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines (33) during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Oakland 52-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
In a best case scenario Jones will be the Giants 4th or 5th passing option behind Beckham Jr, Randle, Victor Cruz, and Larry Donnell. Jones has averaged 48 catches for 621 yards and 5 touchdowns a season over his 8 year career. If Big Blue ever decides to come out in a 5-Wide set it will cause at least one mismatch for any defense. Jones has never been a guy to blow you away with his speed but he has very reliable hands and is an underrated possession receiver. In most offenses he is a very good #2 receiver. In this offense, he is the #4.
With all of these options to throw to Eli Manning has the potential for an MVP caliber season. The two time Super Bowl MVP is coming off of a season in which he threw for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns with a rookie receiver, a first year tight end, and an inconsistent 3rd year receiver that were all supported by the NFL’s 23rd ranked rushing attack.
Now I’m not a proponent of pass heavy offenses. I believe in a balanced attack, as does coach Tom Coughlin. Since joining the Giants in 2004 Coughlin has used the run game to set up the passing attack. This year the Giants will have the ability to set up the run game with its passing attack or use the illusion of passing sets to open up running lanes.
Say the Giants come out in a 3 wide set. Two receivers to either side and one to the other side. They can have Rasahd Jennings, Andre Williams, or Shane Vereen line up behind fullback Henry Hynoski in your 3 WR I-formation. This type of set will allow Eli to see the defense and audible into whatever he sees fit. If the defense is spread out he can run the ball up the gut. If the box is stacked, throw the ball. With the amount of weapons the Giants have, it will be very difficult for defenses to key in on just one aspect of their attack.
In a more traditional I-formation the Giants can opt to keep a tight end on the line instead of one of the aforementioned receivers. If need be Manning can always motion Donnell or Fells out wide and keep the defense guessing. Now, I’m not a coach and there are a ton of formations the Giants will come out in but these two are just examples of how easily the Giants can have opposing defenses guessing on their heels.