5 Adjustments New York Giants Made That Helped Get 2 Wins
5 Adjustments the New York Giants Made that Clearly Helped
The New York Giants started the season with six straight losses and a point differential that was worse than even the Jacksonville Jaguars. This was a bad team -- there was no other way at looking at it. They couldn’t stop offenses and they couldn’t create turnovers. They constantly gave the ball away and even the special teams struggled.
And yet, they have won in the past two weeks. Sure, neither game has been against good teams, but both were games where the Giants were in control. They handled these poor teams as good teams do, taking care of them and not really giving them a chance. There was a distinct change in play, and those who deny that have not been watching that closely.
The truth is that this shift started against the Chicago Bears. Going into that game, the Giants were 0-5 and going against a likely playoff team. It was not looking good. And yet, they almost won. Sure, Eli Manning threw a late pickoff, but a few inches do not mean that the last 58 minutes of good play was bad. The Giants lost, but played better than they had all season.
That change was not random. Manning did not magically find his touch, and the Giants did not just decide to play better. Sports do not work like that. Their improvement was due to adjustments the Giants made on both sides of the ball. For some, it is unclear if the coaches made them, or if the players started making better decisions, but whoever made these alterations made a good move. The improvements were clear.
The Giants will probably not make a full turnaround and save their season, but if they keep doing what turned their season around, they have a shot.
5. More Check-down Throws
This is clearly Eli Manning’s decision. Kevin Gilbride loves to call deep balls, and Manning has often taken that to mean he should chuck it long constantly. It has resulted in a lot of interceptions and even more sacks. The Giants needed to stop that pattern, and part of how they achieved that has been Manning happily taking short throws. Peyton Hillis has averaged four catches in the last two weeks, and John Connor has also grabbed a few balls as well. This illustrates that Manning is looking downfield, then deciding to go short and taking what the defense gives him. He needs to throw fewer interceptions and this is the first step.
4. Better Running Back Pass Protection
This was less an on-field adjustment and more a front office one. Jerry Reese finally replaced his fullback Henry Hynoski while also adding a running back who is good in pass protection. Both these moves turned out well. Hillis has been a major improvement in pass protection and has not been bad running either. Connor has been a monster when blocking both for run and pass. Their presence has given Manning more time and generally helped the offense. After so many bad decisions on running backs, Reese just made a good one.
3. More Blitzes
The Giants have had tons of trouble getting pressure this year. That is disturbing to many Giants fans as this team's defense has been predicated on getting to the quarterback with just their front four. The Giants basically owe their 2007 Super Bowl to this style of defense, so it makes sense. While Perry Fewell was reluctant to leave it, he has. Fewell has called for a lot more blitzes, especially on third downs. The added pressure has aided an anemic pass rush. The blitzes have not all been good and the Giants have gotten beat a few times on them. Clearly, getting pressure with just four defensive linemen is better, but the blitzing has helped to a degree.
2. More Types of Coverage on Defense
It is hard to know for sure, but it seems that Fewell is mixing in more kinds of coverage. Usually, the Giant run variations on a cover-2 scheme, but they have recently thrown in some man-to-man defense as well. It is not surprising to see this as playing cover-2 is not doable when a team blitzes, so the fact the Giants have blitzed more explains this change. Man-to-man might not be better than cover-2, but the variety in different coverages has made it harder on opposing quarterbacks to know when and where to throw. A split-second of thought can be enough for the defensive line to get to the QB. That little sliver of time seems to be paying dividends for the Giants' defense.
1. Shorter Passes
The biggest difference has been in Kevin Gilbride’s play-calling. Gilbride has frustratingly kept going with deep pass plays for Manning, even as the sacks and picks piled up. Finally, Manning is getting shorter route combinations and easier passes. Part of Manning’s shorter throws are simply check-downs, but it is also because of more easy slants and dumps to tight ends, Victor Cruz and even Hakeem Nicks. By calling simpler plays, the Giants have had fewer turnovers, longer drives, and more success. Gilbride still has his faults (why hasn’t he tried a no-huddle when the Giants always seem to run it well?), but his willingness to adjust here is good for him. Frankly, Gilbride’s adjustments might have just saved him his job.