They Might Be Giants: A Preview of the New York Giants Offense

With minicamps and OTA’s wrapping up, and training camp still a few weeks away, HardFoulSports.com’s own Jim Bearor shares his thoughts about the offense of his favorite team, the New York Giants.

 On paper, this might be the most talented Giants offense I have ever seen. It all starts with the offensive line though, and that is a big question mark for this team. Injuries are also among New York’s chief concerns but if all goes as expected, this could be one of the league’s best offenses.

The biggest factors at play here are health, inexperience, and growth within offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense. Injuries have been harsh to Big Blue over the past couple years, and they certainly need to be relatively healthy if they are to remain competitive in the NFC East, otherwise their lack of depth could be exposed – and it won’t be pretty.

With the overhaul that is happening to their defense, it is going to have to be the offense of the Giants that carries them.  Antrel Rolle is gone, Jason Pierre-Paul is still not participating, and Steve Spagnuolo is only getting started implementing his system. The offense made strides last year, but it looks like they’ll have to do even more to compensate for their defense.

So let’s take a look at this squad, position by position, and try and get a feel for this year’s New York Giants offense.

Quarterback

Giants quarterback Eli Manning says he's going to have

Giants quarterback Eli Manning says he’s going to have “the best year of his career.” (Photo Credit: NYPost.com)

Eli Manning lit it up during minicamp. While nobody really cares how well the 12-year veteran played while wearing gym shorts in mid-June, Manning’s arm strength caught everyone’s attention. This has been something he has been working on throughout the offseason, and now it’s pretty clear that it’s paying off.

A lot of Giants fans, including myself, were high on Manning for the upcoming season anyway, seeing as he’s coming off the best statistical season of his career and going into his second year running the new offense. I’ll try not to go too overboard, and I can’t blame you for calling me out on my big blue bias, but let’s just say that I agree with Eli’s statement that he’s going to have to the best year of his career. Of course, this really isn’t entirely within his control. If health remains an issue with Cruz and Beckham, it changes the offense dramatically, and I’m not too confident that the likes of Corey Washington and Reuben Randle will be able to supply that level of production.

Injuries and hypotheticals aside, what we know is this: Eli is in a contract year, he’s getting comfortable in McAdoo’s offense, and weapons like Beckham, Cruz, and Vereen will provide significant matchup problems against anyone.  I’m aware that in the world of sports, the narrative can flip on its head in an instant, but right now Eli is at the top of his game. He’s primed and ready to have a big 2015 season.

Running Backs           

The Giants have four halfbacks who should see the field this season: Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa, and Shane Vereen. Last year, Jennings was the starter with Williams as his backup. The addition of Shane Vereen changes things though. Through minicamp, Vereen was not only taking snaps as a third down back, he was getting the ball in all sorts of ways. There were a few nice passes between Manning and Vereen during minicamp, and if they develop a nice rapport, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Vereen eventually ends up being the main back.

Rashad Jennings is healthy and will probably start the season getting the bulk of the carries on first and second down. If he can stay on the field – which was the same question as last year, when the answer turned out to  be a resounding “NO” –  it’s not unreasonable to think he might be in for the best year of his career (all he needs is 789 yards to eclipse his 2013 career best total in Oakland ).

Andre Williams had an up-and-down rookie season. He showed off his talent to run the ball hard and with explosiveness, but also was exposed as one-dimensional and a liability as a pass blocker. I’m interested to see how often Williams sees the field if all goes well with Vereen and Jennings. The talent is there for Andre Williams, but he needs to round out his game if he is ever going to be an important part of this offense.

Orleans Darkwa is an afterthought. Injuries or blowouts are the only chances he’ll get to see the field until something changes.

Receivers

Even casual NFL fans get the gist of the Giants receiving corp. Cruz and Beckham have game breaking explosiveness, but it all comes down to whether or not they can both stay healthy.

After a breakout rookie campaign, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr has lofty expectations this season. (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NYPost.com)

After a breakout rookie campaign, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr has lofty expectations this season. (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NYPost.com)

Forgive me, but I’m still a little shell-shocked from 2014, where 20 Giants ended up on injured reserve (the most in the league) and had 91 starter games lost to injury (also the most in the NFL). I’m not entirely sure that Victor Cruz will be healthy throughout this upcoming season, and Beckham’s hamstring has been an issue since he’s been a pro.

If these two do what they’re capable of, that makes Reuben Randle the third receiver and Corey Washington the fourth – unless former Dallas return man Dwayne Harris changes that. This is a deep, talented group, but it’s only a hamstring flare-up away from becoming a giant issue.

We all know what Cruz and Beckham – and even Randle at times – are capable of, and with a year of McAdoo’s system under their belts, their chemistry with Eli should be even stronger this year.

Offensive Line

The offensive line was a question before Will Beatty tore his pec, and now it’s a free-for-all. Through OTAs and minicamp, first round pick Ereck Flowers has been getting most of the first team looks at left tackle, and it looks like it is his job to lose.

The most common lineup was, from left to right: Flowers, Pugh, Richburg, Schwartz, and Newhouse. This is a young group, with Schwartz being the oldest at 28 years old. Due to injuries and flat out poor play, the O line last year was not a good look. Pugh, Schwartz, and Richburg were all here last year, but they’ve shuffled around a bit for the upcoming season.

Pugh, who was drafted as a guard out of Syracuse two years ago, actually spent most of 2014 at right tackle. Now he finds himself playing the position he’s most comfortable with, and probably best suited for. The same goes for center Weston Richburg. Richburg didn’t have a stellar rookie season last year, and part of the reason for that is Richburg was needed elsewhere. J.D. Walton surprisingly stayed healthy for the duration of 2014, so the opportunity to play center wasn’t really there anyway. Now Richburg and Pugh are in spots where they seem like they fit, and I feel a little less uneasy because of it.

Marshall Newhouse, while only 26, brings a fair amount of experience to the table.  He was the starting right tackle for the Packers throughout 2011 and 2012, he also started five games for the Bengals last year. The thing is, he’s been around the league for a little while but he hasn’t played very well. In his two and a half years in Green Bay – playing for Ben McAdoo, actually – he allowed 26.5 sacks. Yikes.

I have a feeling that Newhouse will be the guy on this line who gets harassed the most by edge rushers and defensive line stunts. Richburg will also likely be a target for opposing defensive coordinators, but Newhouse is kind of on an island out there on the right. Geoff Schwartz doesn’t know if he’ll be 100% healthy this season, and he’s more of a stop-gap solution at right guard as it is. Newhouse is going to be tested heavily all season, and it should be clear fairly early how capable he really is, and whether or not adjustments need to be made.

When the New York giants took Ereck Flowers with the 9th overall pick in the draft this year, they obviously had plans for him to be a franchise tackle. Beatty’s injury sped this whole process up, and as offensive line coach Pat Flaherty put it: “I thought in a couple years he would be very good. Well, that couple years now is September.”

New York’s offensive line is, as a whole, young and unproven. It seems that there is more optimism than uncertainty surrounding this unit though, and a lot of that stems from simply having players at the correct positions. I’d expect some growing pains for these guys, but the young core of Flowers, Pugh, and Richburg should really take form over the course of the season.


On paper, this might be the most talented Giants offense I have ever seen. It all starts with the offensive line though, and that is a big question mark for this team. Injuries are also among New York’s chief concerns but if all goes as expected, this could be one of the league’s best offenses.

– @JimBearor

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