GIANTS NOTEBOOK II
By Michael Eisen
January 9, 2017
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Before they begin plotting how to improve the Giants in 2017, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo will study one of the vexing questions left over from the just-concluded 2016 season: why didn’t the Giants’ offense score more points?
“I think it is a little bit of a mystery about that,” Reese said today at his annual season-ending news conference, one day after the Giants lost an NFC Wild Card Game to the Green Bay Packers, 38-13. “I thought that the offense would definitely come in and be able to score more points than we did. I thought that we had some yards, but we settled for three points too many times. In this league, when you get in the red zone and green zone you have to score touchdowns and put teams away. Last night, if we go up 14-0, we are in pretty good position right there and we didn’t get a chance to do that, and all they had to do was make a play and they were back in the game. So that hurt us.”
The Giants entered the season with high hopes for their offense. The 2015 team had scored 420 points, the fifth-highest total in franchise history, and the sixth-best in the NFL. The Giants scored at least 30 points in seven games. Ben McAdoo, who devised the game plans and called the plays, had been promoted to head coach, most of the key players were back, and the Giants had improved with the addition of wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Paul Perkins.
But while the team improved from 6-10 to 11-5, the offense never clicked as it did the previous season. The Giants scored 310 points, ranking 26th in the league. They never scored 30 points in a game, and didn’t even reach 20 points in any of their final six contests. In terms of yards-per-game, the Giants dropped from 372.0 to 330.7.
“We felt that we had the talent and the coaching in the scheme this year to have a better year than we have,” McAdoo said at his separate meeting with reporters. “We obviously fell short from an offensive perspective. We need to go back and take a look at the film, do the scheme evaluation, do the personnel evaluations and look at everything that’s involved. I need to take a good look at everything and see where we can get better.”
McAdoo and his coaches, and Reese, will study why the offense never performed as anticipated
“You take a look at it, there are opportunities out there,” McAdoo said. “We had opportunities to be successful. Some plans were better than others, some games…you just have to go back and take a look at it. It’s hard to come in here – we were so focused on the ballgame yesterday – at this time to give you a straight answer. We need to go back and we need to study it, study the personnel, study the scheme, study how it fits together and what we can do to get better.”
The offensive recession affected individual players, none more prominently than quarterback Eli Manning. It is perhaps a measure of the high standard that Manning has set that he exceeded 4,000 passing yards for the third consecutive season, and threw 26 touchdown passes against just 16 interceptions, yet Reese was asked, “Do you think Eli had a down year?”
“I wouldn’t say it was a down year,” Reese said. “I just think that offensively, as a whole, it didn’t function as a unit like we thought it would. So we have some things that we need to evaluate and we will do that. We will be honest about it and evaluate it, and see which direction we need to go to get it fixed.
“I think Eli is a professional, did everything that we asked him to do. Last night, he was in a good rhythm and was throwing the ball well and there were some drops that came into play and it kind of set the tone for things that happened last night. But, overall, I thought that Eli played well.”
Both McAdoo and Reese fielded questions about left tackle Ereck Flowers, the 2015 first-round draft choice who is a frequent target of outside critics.
“Ereck has played basically every snap since he has been here,” Reese said. “He is an early-out junior, still a young player, but it is time for him to show us the fruits of being a first-round draft pick, and I still think he has a chance to do that. We will evaluate that. Is he the left tackle? Should he be in a different position? We will evaluate that. But I do think that he is a big, strong kid who has a chance to be a really good player, so I still believe he has a chance to be a good player.”
Might the Giants bring in a player to compete with Flowers?
“We’re going to go take a look at all of our personnel and our schemes and we’re going to evaluate everything,” McAdoo said. “Put it all out there on the table and see what we have to do to get better. It’s a little early right now to say what direction we need to go or where we’re going to go. Competition is always good.”
*Odell Beckham, Jr. is a great wide receiver who has a tendency to call attention to himself even when he’s not on the field. Reese usually keeps his opinions on such matters private, but he was blunt in his assessment of his star receiver today.
“This is what I see – I see a guy who needs to think about some of the things that he does,” Reese said. “Everybody knows that he is a gifted player, but there are some things that he has done that he needs to look at himself in the mirror and be honest with himself about. And I think he will do that. We will help him with that, but he has to help himself and we believe he will do that. He is a smart guy, but sometimes he doesn’t do smart things.”
Asked how he can help Beckham do that, Reese said, “We all have had to grow up at different times in our lives, and I think it is time for him to do that. He has been here for three years now and is a little bit of a lightning rod because of what he does on the football field. But the things he does off the football field, he has to be responsible for those things and we will talk through it and I believe he is – again, I know he is a smart guy and I believe he understands that he has a responsibility being one of the faces of this franchise, and I think he will accept that responsibility.”
*Last offseason, Reese fortified the defense by signing Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Keenan Robinson. What can we expect this year?
“We don’t have as much money as we had last year to go shopping in free agency,” Reese said. “But I think that we will be able to do things that we need to get done to help this football team.”