Giants Offense On Eli’s Shoulders
Even with two Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVP awards, four trips to the Pro Bowl, and two straight seasons of at least 4,400 yards passing and 30 touchdowns, Eli Manning has always been the little brother of Peyton, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. But now, in his 13th season, Eli is the only Manning brother left in the NFL. The stage is his, and his alone.
With that reality comes extra pressure, especially when you consider the pedestrian nature of the Giants stable of running back. But the change at head coach, from likely future Hall of Famer Tom Coughlin to former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, should have no effect on Manning. This will be his third season in McAdoo’s offense which fits perfectly with Manning’s strength.
Some Giants fans, and even McAdoo himself, have been critical of the offense so far this preseason. And no doubt the first teamers have been bad. The offensive line has struggled, and as a result so has Manning. But there is something about the Giants offense that everyone must keep in mind. Almost no one audibles at the line and directs his offensive line on blocking assignments as much as Eli Manning. His brother Peyton got all of the notoriety for shouts of “Omaha!” and multiple gyrations at the line of scrimmage. But the freedom to change the play that Eli is given is just as broad as his brother’s was. It’s just a little less noticeable.
So in the context of normal preseason procedures, which call for less game-planning, more generic looks, and base offensive plays that change less frequently, one of Eli’s greatest assets–his quarterback IQ and his ability to recognize which plays will work against a particular defensive scheme–has been largely out of commission. Although when the Giants travel to Dallas for the season opener on September 11, that all will change.
And at that point if the offense is still stuck in neutral, then there might be good reason to worry.
Of course the Cowboys will be without starting quarterback Tony Romo for that game, which will benefit the retooled Giants defense, the chief unit of concern this past offseason. Even though that game will be against a rookie quarterback in Dak Prescott, it will still serve as a good gauge to see if the signings of Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins will pay dividends over the course of the season. Rookie quarterback or experienced veteran, it’s a division game on the road, and no good performances come with an asterisk.
Before that game kicks off the final task of getting the roster down to 53 players still must take place. Websites will have the updates on what other teams will do on cut down day, and who might be available for the Giants in case their offensive woes continue into the season. But with Victor Cruz healthy, Odell Beckham even more feared by defensive coordinators, and Eli still yet to employ all of his many skills, hopefully getting outside help will prove to be unnecessary.