This is the first of a weekly analysis intended to compile and track the offensive production, and integration of the various on-field weapons for the Giants.
The big question for this team is to determine the offensive persona of the 2009 New York Giants. Historically, the Giants have always been a run-first team, and everything else is derived from the running game. There is no reason to expect that this year will be any different. This team still has the power and speed at the running back position to potentially lead the league in rushing.
However, this team has a variety of weapons in the passing game, weapons that will be underestimated by the opposition. The only obstacle for this team will be the play selection and execution in the Red Zone (or as Coach Coughlin calls it the Green Zone). This was evident during the season opening 23-17 victory over the NFC East rival, Washington Redskins. The first quarter was a microcosm of the Giants production throughout this opening game.
During the opening quarter, the Giants came out with a clear game plan. Keep the Redskins back on their heels. The Redskin defense looked to stop the run first and challenge Eli Manning to beat them through the air.
That approach seemingly was going to backfire on the Skins. The Giants dominated play during the first quarter. compiling 7 first downs, controlling the ball for over 12 minutes, and the Giants offense generated 132 total yards. Eli Manning had 8 completions in 10 attempts for 76 yards during the quarter.
The offensive balance on the surface seemed very good. Yet the score at the end of the quarter was only 3-0. The problem was not compiling yards, it was closing out drives, and putting up points. The Giants should have had a lead of at least 10 points. Short yardage situations proved to be a nemesis for the Giants.
In all, during the first quarter there were a total of 6 plays inside the red zone, 4 runs and 2 passes, generating 18 total yards. The 2 passes generated 16 of the 18 yards.
The question is, why did the play calling become so conservative? Outside of the red zone in the first quarter, there were 8 pass plays(6 completions) and 6 running plays. The average yards per pass attempt was 7.6 yards per attempt. In the red zone, that balance was flipped, with 2 pass plays and 4 running plays.
The "inexperienced" wide receivers were not the problem. The average per pass attempt during the game was 9.4 yards per attempt. Eli finished with a rating of 93.5, which are good numbers, numbers that will ensure that the receiving corps are not the problem that many have made it out to be.
The predictability of the Giants play-calling in the red zone is the problem. Unless the Giants can evaluate why they seem to go conservative in the red zone, this will continue to be a problem during the season.
Yes, this is only one game. Yes, the Giants should not panic. But this week, the Giants go down to Dallas. Dallas will see the films of this game, and they too will take a similar approach as the Skins. Dallas will force the Giants to beat them in the air. In all, the Giants visited the red zone 3 times, producing only six points.
Unless the Giants are more productive in the red zone, the result of the next game will be as predictable as the red zone play-calling.