Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
New offensive systems tend to have their growing pains. It really takes a whole year to fully learn the fresh terminology that comes with a new playbook.
That being said, it is still shocking how awful the New York Giants offense has been through three preseason games this month.
In 11 drives during those three games, the Giants first team offense has gained 216 yards, with just 49 of those yards through the air, and scored 14 points. Quarterback Eli Manning has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes.
Manning threw more interceptions, 27, than touchdowns, 18, last season in former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's final year.
New OC Ben McAdoo said he would 'fix' Manning and the Giants offense, which had 10 more giveaways last year than any other team in the league. So far though, not only has McAdoo failed to put the Big Blue offense on the path to being fixed, it looks like it has gotten worse.
McAdoo is a disciple of the west coast offense, and in that style, completion percentage typically goes up even if yards per pass attempt decrease slightly. Yet, Manning has completed seven of his 16 passes and just one of his last nine throws. Manning is also averaging a putrid 3.06 yards per pass attempt.
In a perfect world, the west coast offense should also 'fix' protecting Manning. The opposition sacked Manning 39 times and forced seven fumbles last year, but this preseason, Manning has a sack in each contest.
Super Bowls are obviously not won or lost in August, so there is no reason for Manning and the Giants to push the panic button. But if the lack of preseason production is not alarming, it is at least concerning. The two-time Super Bowl MVP has given no indication he is at all comfortable in McAdoo's system.
Contrary to popular believe, the Giants offensive woes last season did not stem from Gilbride, but rather from a lack of proper support for Manning. New York finished 29th in rushing, which put the team in long passing situations on third down, prime for defensive coordinators to bring outside pass rushers. So Manning would often force his passes into tight coverage to no avail and that could very well happen again this season.
With running back David Wilson ruled out this season and maybe longer, Rashad Jennings, the former Jaguars and Raiders backup, projects to be New York's Week 1 starting running back. Former pro bowl offensive lineman Chris Snee retired in July, and even though he played just three games last year, his locker room presence will be missed.
At receiver, Manning must rely on young receivers Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham to be his second and third receivers since Hakeem Nicks left for free agency. Victor Cruz is still Manning's number one target, but he had a down season last year with his fewest receptions, 73, receiving yards, 998, and touchdowns, 4, in his three years starting.
The truth is, it wouldn't be surprising to see Manning start clicking with McAdoo's scheme by season's end, but to also see the offense still struggle.
Assuming the veteran quarterback can get on track with McAdoo, look for Manning to improve his touchdowns to 25 and passing yards to about 4,300, yet still hover around 17 interceptions. The Giants quarterback has thrown 17 or more picks in five of his nine years starting.
Jennings averaged 4.5 yards per carry last year, and it will be interesting to see if he can do that as a starter. His ceiling looks to be a 1,000-yard rushing season. On paper, Cruz could be the Giants version of Randall Cobb in McAdoo's offense, but that all depends on how quickly Manning can adapt to the west coast. Realistically, Cruz could catch 80 balls for over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.
If the Giants struggle to run the ball again this year, Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham should see a lot of passes come their way. Look for both young wide outs to be in the 700-800 yard range with five touchdowns each.
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