One thing that the Giants have been doing well lately is not turning the ball over in the passing game. Quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games, and his season completion rate is all the way up to 65 percent.
Even with those figures, though, New York has not been able to keep pace with the Eagles or Cowboys during the last two games. General manager Jerry Reese said during the bye week that the team should take more chances down the field in the passing game. Against Dallas, Manning completed just two passes that were longer than 20 yards.
“We want to be more explosive,” said offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in response to Reese’s comments, “We are looking for explosive plays. We feel that [explosive plays] are a part of great execution and extra effort. Regardless of how they come you want to be more explosive.”
The introduction of McAdoo and his west coast system has allowed for Manning to complete passes at a higher rate and avoid costly turnovers. Still, to defeat an explosive opponent like the Colts on Monday night, the Giants may need the help of a big play or two. McAdoo says that it takes more than just a quarterback and wide receivers to create such plays. Great protection from the offensive line is a key factor as well.
A great example of an entire offense clicking together and making big plays was on display last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes during a 51-34 dismantling of the Colts.
“I had a chance to watch the game and get bits and pieces of it when it was on TV before we got to the game film,” said McAdoo, “They did a good job protecting. A lot of things start there. It starts with protection. They protected them up fairly well.”
All the tape study in the world won’t create an opportunity for the Giants if their offensive line doesn’t protect Manning. The line play has been spotty this season with great performances during the three-game winning streak but awful ones in losses to Detroit and Philadelphia.
According to McAdoo, taking shots isn’t as simple as making a play call. The quarterback plays a major role in determining where the ball goes. After all, he’s the one actually throwing it. At the end of the day, Manning is the guy deciding which chances get taken, but McAdoo doesn’t want him to force anything.
“The coverage, the access, the match-up, the protection and his feet tell him where to go with the ball. The play call doesn’t tell him where to go with the ball. That is what I think Eli has been doing in the transition. The last thing we want to do is force anything. We want to let the game come to us. We are not going to press. You don’t get anywhere pressing.”
It’s going to be tough for Manning to continue improving his completion and interception rates while at the same time making more throws down the field. In this case, however, it appears that Reese wants the best of both worlds.