This year, Josh Carney and I will break down the opposing team’s defense in our weekly scouting report. Like last year, I will be looking at the opposing team in a more broad, scheme-approach. Josh will have a closer eye on the individual players.
Today, the New York Giants’ offense.
Alex’s Scheme Report
Giants’ Run Game
The Giants’ run game has been poor all season long and made them a pretty one-dimensional passing attack, relying on Eli Manning and the passing attack to get the job done. Rashad Jennings is their leading back bu averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
Paul Perkins offers more explosion and wiggle but his output has been limited on the ground as well. The Giants have yet to have a back go for over 100 yards all season and did it just twice a year ago.
One thing they do well is take care of the football. Just one carry among the group and that was from Shane Vereen who tore his triceps in September and is still on the IR-to return list. Not someone the Steelers have to think about.
Rookie receiver Sterling Shepard also has one carry for 22 yards this year. Keep that in the back of your head.
The Giants have just 21 runs of 10+ yards, tied for 30th in the NFL. Only five of 20+, which is just below the league average. Their 3.4 YPC as a unit is tied for 31st.
The offensive line has been consistent at three spots – left tackle, center, and right guard. Left guard has seemed like a mess lately with usual start Justin Pugh (#67) dealing with injuries. Pugh has been limited throughout the week and seems like a coinflip to play Sunday. So is his assumed replacement Marshall Newhouse (#73).
If both are out, it duties could fall to short-timed Steleer Adam Gettis (#60). Brett Jones (#69) got the start in Week 10 and could also see time. But assume Gettis.
They are a power/trap heavy offense. Love to get their guards pulling and right guard John Jerry is pretty good at it, weighing in at a listed 6’5 340. He’s a big boy and will throw his weight around.
Also run some regular man schemes and the occasional zone play. Ran a toss left twice, according to my notes.
There is no longer a true fullback in their offense. Often, they mitigate that by going 11 personnel and putting #45 Will Tye in the backfield and having him serve as a lead blocker.
Giants’ Passing Game
It goes through Manning, who is having an above average season. Ok, not spectacular numbers in most areas. 63% completion rate, 2o touchdowns, 10 interceptions, with a 7.0 YPA. He’s only been sacked 13 times in over 420 dropbacks and only once more as a team, tying them with, among other teams, Pittsburgh for the second least in the NFL.
Odell Beckham Jr is their obvious #1 target. He has 65 receptions and a very healthy 14.1 per catch average. Of receivers with at least 60 grabs, only T.Y. Hilton, Julio Jones, and A.J. Green have a better average. He’s caught eight touchdowns, or 40% of the Giants’ total. Their real threat and we’ll talk about him a little more shortly.
But it doesn’t just run through OBJ. Sterling Shepard is a promising rookie who doesn’t look like much, barely even peering over the podium at the Senior Bowl in January, but has caught 44 passes for five touchdowns. And Victor Cruz has made a remarkable recovery from a torn patellar tendon and finally got on track, averaging over 17 yards per catch.
There’s another rookie, Roger Lewis, who has only caught six balls but is averaging 15 yards per catch and found the end zone twice.
The backs get involved in this offense too, with Jennings, Perkins, and Bobby Rainey all catching at least 13 passes.
Tight end Will Tye sees a decent amount of volume but does little with it.
As an offense, their 32 completions of 20+ yards ranks for just 21st but because of the big play weapons they have, they are 5th in 40+ receptions, more than Pittsburgh, with a whopping nine of them. When you see a disparity like that, you take extra notice. Steelers must stop the deep ball.
Back to Beckham. Like Antonio Brown or Hilton, he’s one of the #1 receivers who can line up all over the field. The Giants routinely put him in the slot or reduced splits stacks to get good matchups and create free releases. It’s very virtually impossible to shadow a guy like that and I’m not expecting the Steelers to try it this weekend.
He’s someone they use horizontally and vertically. He can score on a nine route or a drag route across the field. Can’t stop him with one guy. Going to have to bracket coverage him and squeeze any throws. If he has leverage, he’s gone. That’s what you have to take away to slow him down.
Although their running game isn’t strong, they do have a commitment to it and will use plays off it well. Like Pittsburgh, and so many other teams, they will false key run by pulling the guard, running playaction, and often looking to hit the Y tight end down the seam.
There is some window dressing like a lot of NFC East teams do. They did run that fake end around, screen to the RB in Week 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals. I hope the Steelers have learned their lesson.
On third down, they will look towards a mesh concept with a sort of “hank” look behind it, a receiver sitting down in the middle of the field.
Giants’ Special Teams
Except Odell Beckham Jr on punts this week and obviously, he’s a major threat. Has to be contained. On kicks, Dwayne Harris has a healthy 25 yard average with a long of 46. They have a kick return formation of 4-2-3-2.
On field goals, the Giants have two tight ends on the wings. Will Tye at LW, Larry Donnell at RW. Have to watch them.
Brad Wing is the punter/holder and he’s a great athlete. Lot of fakes in his college and pro career. He hasn’t rushed or thrown a pass in his Giants’ career. Yet.
Coty Sensabaugh and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were the jammers against the Browns.
Josh’s Individual Report
After two straight games on the road resulting in two straight wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s time to return home to the friendly confines of Heinz Field to take on the New York Giants, who are on a roll at this point in the season, winners of six straight games.
The biggest difference with this Giants team from years past is that Eli Manning and the offense isn’t leading the way during this winning streak; it’s the improved defense that the front office spent some $200 million on in the first day of free agency this past spring.
However, the offense has seemingly gotten better and better with very little pressure being placed on them thanks to the strong defensive play.
There’s really not much that has changed with this offense comparing the units from Ben McAdoo as a coordinator and McAdoo as the head coach.
It all starts and ends with Eli Manning for the Giants offense, which currently ranks 21st in total offense (33.59 yards per game), 21st in points per game (21.0), 24th in turnover margin (-5), 12th in passing yards per game (256.5), tied for 21st in explosive plays (32 plays of 20+ yards), 31st in rushing yards per game (79.5) and tied for 30th in rushing yards per attempt (3.4).
As you can see from the numbers, the Giants offense is very underwhelming in terms of raw stats.
Despite having Manning running the offense (2,902 yards, 20/10 TD:INT), the lack of a running game has really hindered an offense that is chalk full of dynamic pass catchers outside of the hash marks.
The struggles on the ground largely doesn’t have much to do with the lack of talent in the backfield as Rashad Jennings and rookie Paul Perkins can get it done at a high level as pass catchers and runners. The issue lies in the fact that the Giants have arguably one of the worst offensive lines in football.
Here’s how they’ll likely line up left to right on Sunday afternoon:
LT — Ereck Flowers
LG — Justin Pugh
C — Weston Richburg
RG — John Jerry
RT — Marshall Newhouse
Flowers, despite being a high first-round draft pick, simply can’t get it done consistently as Manning’s blind side protector. The former Miami Hurricane struggles with speed off the edge and really can’t anchor well against power rushes. He often looks overmatched at left tackle, which is a real problem for the Giants.
Pugh and Richburg are solid at left guard and center, most often serving as the best run blockers on the roster. Pugh has moved around the offensive line in his career but seems to have found a long-term home at left guard.
With the offensive line struggling to open up rushing lanes for Jennings (395 yards and three touchdowns) and Perkins (147 yards), it often forces Manning to take to the air, abandoning the run early in games.
However, in the last few weeks the Giants rushing attack has seemed to improve, coming up big in the Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals to seal a big win.
The Giants are often at their best offensively when they’re able to have a balanced attack, allowing them to work in the play-action pass.
But if the running game struggles, it’s not as if the offense is dead in the water with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Will Tye coming up big as pass catchers.
After a few weeks of unnecessary vitriol towards the dynamic Beckham, the third-year receiver has really exploded in the last few weeks, hauling in five touchdowns in four games since the bye week.
Beckham (65 catches, 915 yards, eight touchdowns) has always been a tremendous receiver that does all of the little things well within his craft, but this year we’ve started to see him showcase his speed more and more in the open field.
When you’re a terrific route runner with great hands, you’re usually going to be highly productive. But when you can add in a blazing speed element, you’re nearly unguardable. That’s what we’ve seen from Beckham these last four weeks.
As Beckham draws a lot of the attention (and rightfully so), it has allowed the rookie Shepard to really shine.
I loved the diminutive receiver coming out of Oklahoma due to his route running, hands and toughness, and he hasn’t missed a beat in any of those areas in the NFL.
Shepard (44 catches, 476 yards, five touchdowns) has given the Giants a dynamic No. 2 receiver next to Beckham, taking a ton of pressure off of the face of the franchise.
With Beckham and Shepard stealing the show as pass catchers, it has allowed Tye (31 catches, 259 yards, one touchdown) and Cruz (27 catches, 478 yards, one touchdown) to glide under the radar while still making an impact for the Giants offensively.
Cruz is nowhere near the receiver he once was, but just the fact that oft-injured receiver has played without issue this season is highly encouraging for the offensive unit moving forward.
Although the raw offensive numbers might not be there right now on a weekly basis for the Giants, they still have plenty of high-end talent that can explode at any time. That being said though, the current formula for the Giants is working, so why change it now.
On special teams, the Giants had a bit of a rough start to the season due to Josh Brown’s ridiculous situation with domestic violence (shame on the New York franchise for keeping him around despite him admitting in a journal what he had done).
Once Brown was out the door, it was time to bring in the veteran Robbie Gould, who was cut by the Chicago Bears earlier in the year. Since joining the Giants, Gould has attempted just two field goals on the year, and is a perfect 2-for-2.
At punter, former Steeler Brad Wing is having tremendous season for the boys in blue. Wing, whom the Steelers traded away, is averaging 47.2 yards per punt on 62 attempts. Of those 62 punts, 19 have been downed inside the 20-yard line, with just six total punts going for touchbacks.
The LSU product is making a serious case for All-Pro consideration.
At kick and punt returner, Dwayne Harris is as dynamic as they come in the National Football League. On punts, Harris is averaging just less than seven yards per return. On kicks, Harris already has a return of 46 yards to his credit this season while averaging 25.6 yards per return.
Bobby Rainey will get some looks at kick and punt returns, depending on the situation and the field position at stake.
Overall, the Giants aren’t explosive, but they’re a steady offensive group with an improving special teams unit that won’t lose them games. That’s pretty much all that you can ask for.