Change. It’s been the constant theme of the work that the Giants have done this offseason. Even Eli Manning couldn’t escape it. From the multitude of free agent additions, to the offense-centric draft and perhaps most importantly the introduction of a new offensive coordinator, it looks certain that the new-look Giants offense will be nothing if not different from last year’s debacle. The Giants entered this past offseason knowing changes needed to be made in order to fix an offense that came apart at the seams last season, and the Big Blue’s brass responded with wholesale reform.
The months leading up to the regular season are a period of great optimism for every franchise, a period where fans can get lost in the promise that fresh faces and the anticipation of a new season can provide. For the Giants especially, a number of players returning from injury mixed with many new signings and a fresh offensive outlook left a lot of reasons to be optimistic. But for a team that had so much to integrate over preseason preparation, things really could not have gone much worse.
Going into training camp, the Giants had rebuilt the offensive line, revamped the backfield, and grabbed one of the draft’s top receiver talents to springboard the transition to the new offense. Within a week of camp’s start, two anticipated injury returns had to call it quits on their NFL careers – the stalwart ten-year veteran guard Chris Snee, and the tragic case of third year running back David Wilson.
The offensive line, the prime culprit of last season’s struggles, has particularly been an area where the Giants have found it troublesome to get into a rhythm. With no fewer than five additions to the offensive line through the draft and free agency, the Giants have mixed and matched various lineups and have struggled to bed in a consistent group. From Snee’s retirement to waiting for William Beatty’s medical clearance and the recent injury to Geoff Schwartz, the ostensible first choice line of Beatty, Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Brandon Mosley and Justin Pugh have really had little time to gel. And of course, we may not even see Odell Beckham take the practice field until October.
So much focus has been on whether the Giants’ passing game is ready to run Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense, and if the preseason is anything to go by the answer seems to be a resounding “no”. It is going to take some time to get the timing down between Manning and the receivers, for the offensive line to gel and for Beckham to heal and be integrated into the lineup.
Fortunately, it looks like the Giants can once again lean on what has been the foundation for the offense’s success for so long. As behind as the passing game looks, the running game looks miles ahead. Rashad Jennings already looks like excellent value, mixing a no-nonsense running style with the pass catching ability needed to be a featured back in a West Coast Offense and an underrated second gear.
Rookie Andre Williams looks like a phenomenal talent in terms of pure running ability, and will surely prove an effective if one-dimensional spell back for Jennings.
Last year’s problems on offense were all encompassing: an offensive line in shambles, an ineffective running game and a passing offense where Eli Manning and his receivers appeared to be operating on different planets. There is little doubt that the Giants will be better this year on offense than last, but the real question is whether the offense is good enough to get the Giants back into postseason play.
Looking at the talent on the roster there is reason to think the offense can be, but those expecting this offense to hit the ground running will have to wait. The Giants have been running a race against time to be ready for the new season with so many new pieces involved, and the passing game still looks well away from being ready. Nonetheless, an effective running game can take a lot of pressure off a lagging passing attack and the Giants can expect to have one. This isn’t going to be the offense Giants fans were hoping for, and it’s certainly going to be ugly at times, but the Giants will still have a formula for success. It just may not be in the way others were expecting.