Many times in past years, we’d see a New York Giants receiver break one way, Eli Manning throw another way, and we’d blame Manning for the interception.
Those weren’t all Manning’s fault, of course, but it’s not an issue now because that’s not happening anymore.
In the Giants’ old offense, as I understand it, a lot of it was based on receivers reading the coverage after the snap. That forced Manning to hold the ball. It also creates issues like uncertainty by the quarterback and miscommunication with receivers. In Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s offense, it’s pretty simple: Quick, defined throws in rhythm. Get the ball out fast. Some might even think it’s a bit boring because there aren’t many downfield throws, but it’s efficient. In some of the games I’ve analyzed, Manning seems to be getting the ball out in an average of about two seconds per drop back. Manning has fit perfectly in the scheme.
One reason the offense is so effective is that Manning is really good before the snap. He doesn’t get the reputation of being that kind of a quarterback, but he’s brilliant. He’s phenomenal in reading the defense before the play, especially when it comes to the run game and getting the Giants in the right play. And his pre-snap reads fit this offense very well.
Manning made a nice pre-snap read in the first quarter of a Week 3 game against the Washington Redskins. He read the man free coverage, with safety Trenton Robinson in the box and the potential for the blitz. So Manning called the back-shoulder fade to Rueben Randle against cornerback DeAngelo Hall, with a seven-man protection concept. It was great pre-snap and post-snap execution by Manning.
McAdoo came from Green Bay, and the Giants basically run the same offense as the Packers. There are a lot of tweaks and slight differences, but in both offenses you see a lot of slants and in-breaking routes. You’d even have to say that the offense, as it’s drawn up on a chalkboard, is run more purely by Manning than it is by Aaron Rodgers. They’re different quarterbacks. Rodgers is a second reaction player. He’ll make plays late in the down. Manning is more of a rhythm thrower in this offense, getting the ball out fast right after the snap.
Here’s a good example of how well Manning is running the offense, with quick decisions and throws. Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4, Manning hit Randle for an 11-yard touchdown. It was open because of a coverage mistake by the Bills. Buffalo rushed three and dropped eight, playing man-to-man on the three-receiver side and zone to the single-receiver side. Bills linebacker Preston Brown didn’t not play his zone drop properly, and that opened up the lane for a quick slant to Randle. Manning recognized that and hit a quick score.
Another aspect about the offense that stands out this season is how the Giants have expanded the playbook, and a lot of that centers around the usage of Odell Beckham. Beckham is being used like Randall Cobb in Green Bay, but with even more flexibility because Beckham is better outside the numbers than Cobb. But Beckham will line up anywhere, sometimes even lining up in the backfield before motioning out. Running back Shane Vereen has also been a movable chess piece in the offense.
In the second quarter last week against the 49ers, Beckham lined up in the inside slot in a three-by-one set. The safety, Antoine Bethea, was looking inside for help on Beckham, who ran a stick-nod route and got in the void behind dime safety Jaquiski Tartt and in front of Bethea with room to run. On a third-and-7 play, Beckham gained 31.
Manning is playing some of the best football of his career at age 34. He has a 100.2 quarterback rating so far this season. Manning has never finished any of his 11 NFL seasons with a rating above 100. A big part of his success is that the offense scheme that fits him like a glove.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.