Giants' Offensive Struggles Lie Deeper than What the Stats Show

We know the stats and we see how things have unfolded. But there digging a little deeper, there are a couple other reasons why the Giants might just be looking for another offensive coordinator at the end of this season.
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The lack of points… the dropped passes… the turnovers… the sacs, and pressures… these are all contributing factors to the Giants offense’s struggles.

But in examining why the Giants offense has struggled, it’s certainly fair to question if the Giants’ offense was built correctly and sustain long-term success.

The numbers would suggest it hasn’t. The Giants currently have the 31st ranked offense, averaging 297.2 yards per game, the 20th ranked rushing offense (109.5 points per game), and the 29th ranked passing offense (187.7 points per game). They are ranked 25th in average time of possession (28:47/game) and 31st in points per game (17.1).

There are a couple of arguments one might make as being behind the offense’s struggles.

A New Coaching Staff

Although changes in the coaching staffs from Ben McAdoo to Pat Shurmur and then from Pat Shurmur to Joe Judge were necessary, the Giants did themselves no favors by swinging and missing on the successors to Tom Coughlin.

Every coach brings with him a specific system he prefers, which is natural. But the problem is that the system that the coach brings in doesn’t always fit the team's personnel on the roster.

I’ve pointed in the past to the defensive side of the ball and how defensive coordinator James Bettcher slowly replaced what the Giants had on the roster with his former players from his days with the Cardinals.

Offensively, the best example I can think of is guard Will Hernandez, who went from having his name and “future Pro Bowler” mentioned in the same sentence as a rookie has seen his playing time drop off a ledge since recovering from the COVID-19 virus.

That’s not necessarily a knock on Hernandez, who is still a good player; rather, that’s probably a result of Hernandez’s skill set not being an ideal fit for what the Giants scheme warrants. Hernandez is a more than serviceable straight-ahead power blocker who can stonewall a man, but ask him to pull, which this scheme does a lot of, and that’s where some question arises as far as whether he’s a fit.

Building Approach

General manager Dave Gettleman boldly proclaimed that one of his top priorities was to fix the offensive line during his introductory press conference. This proclamation was music to the ears of the fans who had seen Eli Manning struggle behind leaky pass protection.

So what did Gettleman do in his first draft? He became so infatuated with running back Saquon Barkley that he passed on offensive lineman Quenton Nelson and then sought to apply bandages all over the offensive line.

In retrospect, this is the very same approach that his predecessor Jerry Reese took when he famously passed on Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin in favor of LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr-- building from the outside-in rather than from the inside out. It rarely works, especially on the offense, where it doesn’t matter who the skill position players are if the big men up front can’t hold their blocks to allow for plays to develop.

To a degree, the addition of Daniel Jones at quarterback helped, as did an offensive system as run by Pat Shurmur, which took advantage of Jones’s mobility and made sure to get the ball out of Jones’s hand as quickly as possible.

The problem developed when the Giants switched to Garrett, who runs more of an Air Coryell system. Not only do the Giants not have the firepower at receiver, but the offensive line, while promising, is still very much a work in progress and is one that had been made to look a little bit better than it is thanks to Jones’s mobility.

Consider this stat: The Giants, tied with the Bengals for the second-most sacks (48) in the league, have allowed 15 of those 48 in the last three games alone, the period corresponding with Jones’s injuries hampered his mobility.

Should the Giants Change Their Offensive Coordinator?

That is the million-dollar question, and one that, based on the offense’s production (or lack thereof), appears to be the direction in which the Giants are trending.

As someone who was in favor of Garrett’s hire, I have become disenchanted with what the offense has shown this year because I don’t see the Giants as having bridged the gap between what they run and what they have talent-wise.

I think back to the start of the season and how disappointing it was not to see Barkley matched up against linebackers and defensive backs in space, and I wonder what might have been. I think about all the times tight end Evan Engram is asked to try to block a defensive end (not a strength) rather than a linebacker or defensive back (more of a strength), and it’s frustrating.

I think of the numerous stick routes the receivers are frequently asked to run and how easy it makes for the opposing defense to defend.

Sometimes on a second glance, things aren’t a fit. It happens, and when it does, it’s best to break things off rather than prolong a mismatch.

Judge appears to have a clear vision as to what he wants this Giants team to look like, and indeed, it’s safe to say that the offense’s production doesn’t come close to resembling Judge’s expectations.

And if we’ve learned nothing else about the Giants first-year head coach, he’s not afraid to make a change to improve the team, and we should not be surprised if Garrett is a one-and-done coordinator for this team.