New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 26 passes against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
For any New York Giants fan addicted to statistics, his 70 percent completion percentage meant that the team deserved a better fate. But does that sentiment actually ring true? In this season of woe, Manning completes more than 69 percent of his passes, according to Pro Football Reference. If this percentage holds down the stretch, it will be the best season of his long career.
Or will it?
At 3-8, the New York Giants will likely be on the outside looking in at the NFL playoffs. As analysts around the league drooled over the number of New York Giants weapons, the team’s game plan (or playbook) has remained stagnant.
Anyone who watched the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Denver Broncos was treated to an exciting contest. The teams traded body blow after body blow, highlighted by JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 97-yard touchdown romp.
Now, if you didn’t watch the game, it should be noted that Smith-Schuster’s touchdown wasn’t a bomb. It went about thirty yards in the air, yet it was an absolute thing of beauty.
Open up the playbook
There are several takeaways that are immediately evident.
First, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hangs in the pocket in the face of a bull rush right up the middle of the offensive line. Secondly, Roethlisberger correctly picks out Smith-Schuster as his target.
Based on the defensive scheme, the Denver Broncos wanted to pin Pittsburgh deep in its own territory, or worse yet, cause a safety.
Did the Steelers fold like a cheap suit?
Instead, recognizing one-safety high, the Steelers formation split their two top receivers and placed them on opposite ends of the field. That meant Antonio Brown split out wide left, and the Broncos safety, Darian Stewart, bit to Brown’s side of the field.
Could the New York Giants run something similar?
Of course they could, but something continues to hold them back. Is the play-calling on the conservative side because of the quarterback? Or is it simply a case of unimaginative play-calling?
Internally, someone knows the answer. In fact a few people know the answer. And this brief film study seems to be at the heart of Odell Beckham’s recent comments. And for the “blame the offensive line” crew, Big Ben definitely didn’t have a clean pocket.
Sometimes players have to make plays, and that’s something we haven’t seen around here in while, at least since OBJ’s incredible catch against the Dallas Cowboys. Sure there were others, but if you ever watch the Steelers highlights, you’ll see at least one dynamic play each week. Most times, it will be multiple dynamic plays each week.
The New York Giants philosophy of dink and dunk continues to waste the talents of Sterling Shepard and OBJ. Between Smith-Schuster and Brown, they caught 22 passes on Sunday, while Beckham and Shepard had nine catches between them. Enough said.