The Tampa Bay offense right now is everything the New York Giants one day hope their offense will come close to mimicking.
And not just because the Bucs have a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady running the show. While Brady is the head that steers the Byron Leftwich-Bruce Arians system, the other ten guys on the field with Brady at any given time have helped turn that offense into a well-oiled machine that ranks in the top five in almost every major offensive statistical category.
Those rankings include average yards/game (406.4, 3rd), average yards gained/play (6.22, 1st), passing yards (315.6/game, 1st), sacks allowed per pass attempt (3.13 percent, 1st), first downs (23.6, 5th) and scoring (31 points/game, 3rd).
"They’re very, very balanced," said head coach Joe Judge. "They’ve got explosive weapons all over the field. We all know the quarterback is a great player. They do a great job offensively with not just the explosive plays, but it’s just staying balanced, staying ahead of the sticks, and scoring points.
"There’s a reason these guys are top of the league with scoring points and that’s really the down in and down out execution."
Although Judge will never admit this publicly, it wouldn't be a shock if he yearns for the Giants to emulate the explosiveness and balance of the Bucs offense. To date, however, the Giants offense, as run by Jason Garrett, a former NFL quarterback like Leftwich, has looked more like a unit that's still cutting its teeth and trying to find its identity.
When he was first hired, Judge spoke of trying to move players around like chess pieces to exploit opponents' weaknesses. But that's been a challenge to pull off when, for example, running back Saquon Barkley is the best option to test an opponent's run defense only to not have Barkley available due to injury.
While a strong case can be made that injuries have prevented the coaching staff from truly getting to know what they have collectively, Judge refused to use that as an excuse.
"It’s our responsibility to have whoever’s available for the game be out there and produce and for those guys to come out there and be productive within their roles," he insisted.
Injuries aside, the coaching and play-calling, at times, has left something to be desired, and during last week's downtime, Judge said he and his staff went through their processes with a fine-tooth comb to tighten things up and get better production.
"I think there’s a number of things we went through in the self-scout in terms of maybe how we’re calling the game and then plays we have to make when they’re in front of us," he said.
While not going into specifics, one glaring area for the Giants has been the red-zone production. From the execution to the play selection, the Giants can't seem to buy themselves a touchdown once they get into the opponent's red zone.
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The Giants are currently tied with Detroit for 30th place in the league in red-zone touchdowns scored per game (1.2), which is the same rate they finished with last season.
The good news is that after starting slowly this year in the red zone--the Giants converted seven of 17 attempts into touchdowns (41 percent) through their first six games. They've gotten better over the last three games, converting four of eight attempts (50 percent).
According to quarterback Daniel Jones besides executing better, the Giants have also been more patient on offense.
"I think that has a lot to do with the defense you’re playing and how they’re playing you and what you’re doing well as an offense," he said when asked if it's difficult to be patient.
"I think understanding that, factoring that into your decision-making and what you’re trying to do with the ball on certain plays, I think that is a big part of playing the game and playing the position. We’ll continue to do that but look to take our opportunities when they’re there."
It also helps that after dropping 12 passes in the first six games, Jones's receiving targets have done a better job with hanging onto his passes, registering just six drops in the last three games (zero in Week 9's win over the Las Vegas Raiders).
Another factor the Giants hope to continue starting Monday night against the Bucs? Staying out of 3rd-and-long situations.
The Giants have converted 20 percent of their third-and-long this season, where they've had six or more yards to go. When they've had less than five years to go, they've been successful in covering 28 percent of those attempts.
These are just some of the goals the Giants are eying on offense to turn their lethargic and sometimes ineffective game plans into something people can get excited about--hopefully in the same way people get excited watching the Bucs light things up.
"We’ve got to do a better job all the way across the board and make sure we finish drives with touchdowns," Judge said.
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