Giants morph from pretenders to contenders

Labeled as the doormats of the NFC just two weeks ago, Eli Manning and company have risen from the depths to join the race for a divisional title in the NFC East.

Oh, so this is what new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s West Coast offense is supposed to look like. The unit, which looked disoriented throughout the preseason and in the Giants’ Week 1 loss to Detroit, has looked progressively better before finally erupting on Thursday night in New York’s 45-14 stomping of the rival Washington Redskins.

In the process, the Giants, thought to be amongst the worst teams in the league after Week 2, looked like a contender for the NFC East title.

The transformation hasn’t been totally sudden, but the extreme results that the Giants have gotten out of their offense in the past two weeks are pretty startling. After Rashad Jennings led the charge with 176 rushing yards in Week 3’s 30-17 win over Houston, Eli Manning captained a ruthlessly efficient passing attack to defeat Washington in Week 4.

By going 28-for-39 with 300 passing yards and five touchdowns (four through the air, one on a rare rushing attempt), Manning completed over 70 percent of his passes for the second straight week and looked to be a quarterback rejuvenated by McAdoo’s system.

While Manning has no doubt improved in recent weeks, his performance on Thursday owes much thanks to Larry Donnell, the undrafted tight end out of Grambling State. Few outside of Giants country had even heard of Donnell at the outset of the 2014 season, but he’s made an impact early on by using his 6’6” frame and great hands to become a reliable target for Manning.

Never was that more apparent than on Thursday night, when Donnell hauled in seven of eight targets for 54 yards and three touchdowns. It’s easy to see why Manning loves throwing to Donnell in the end zone so much. When he times his jump well, Donnell is almost certainly going to be the first man to the ball, and he doesn’t seem to be very prone to drops so far.

After sterling outputs against Houston and Washington, Giants fans just want to know how long this offensive renaissance can continue. As long as the offensive line can continue to keep Manning clean, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping him from throwing precise passes. McAdoo and Manning will be put to the test next week against an Atlanta Falcons team that knows how to put points on the scoreboard.

Win that game, and we can start seriously talking about the playoffs for these Giants.

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