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New York Giants Have Tools in Place to Fix 3rd Down Woes in 2013

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:30 PM
By Kyle Langan

One of the biggest issues facing the 2013 New York Giants is 3rd down conversions. The 2012 season was abysmal from a 3rd down standpoint. Short drives contributed to a gassed defense which perpetuated a losing battle on the time of possession front.

Some of the issues can be assessed to issues on 1st and 2nd down. That said, quarterback Eli Manning struggled mightily on 3rd down in 2012. He completed only 36.71% of his passes, good for 17th in the NFL. This was far cry from his 2011 campaign where he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and broke every 4th quarter passing record known to man.

Eli shoulders some of the blame, but it has been bothersome to me why such a seasoned veteran coming off such a great season would regress in such a fashion.

Part of the issue was a revolving door at the #3 receiver position. The Giants never settled on utilizing Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden or Rueben Randle.

Randle is likely to shoulder that load come next season, but this year he did not have enough a grasp on the offense to be relied on consistently.

Case in point: Against the Redskins, Randle had what proved to be a defining play in the Giants' season when he misread coverage against the Redskins. The Giants had 1st and 10 at the Washington 30 yard line and Eli Manning was looking for Randle on a back-shoulder fade when Randle continued his route down field. Manning was flagged for an intentional grounding and from 2nd and 20 the Giants were only able to move closer for a field goal. They ultimately missed the field goal.

Manning is very good at working with young receivers and getting them on the same page, so Randle is not a concern moving forwards.

The injury to Hakeem Nicks, which has been addressed at length, was major.

Nicks excelled at running the 9 route and the stop route, two routes that Eli Manning loved to take chances on come third down. When you think on it, it becomes fairly convenient for the quarterback to know that he has two route options which he can take even when the coverage is there, yet still come up with a big play. Against man coverage, Nicks is nearly impossible to defend. His injury allowed a scheme shift on the part of the defense on half the field.

In 2013, the Giants must attack more space on the field.

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter mastered this with Matt Ryan this season.

The Falcons have thrown a lot more screen passes this season with Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield and to the wide receivers as well. They like to mix up play calling bases on formations and throw deep with only one wideout on the field.

You have to believe offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will find ways to open up the field next year. David Wilson can be a threat in the passing game and with a better situation at the 3rd receiver spot the Giants can line up with three wide receivers more often and get some favorable matchups in terms of defensive personnel.

2011 and 2012 were a tale of two offenses. The 2011 offense was poor from an aggregate numbers perspective but great situationally. The 2012 team was great from an aggregate numbers perspective but poor situationally. 2013 should prove to be a rebound year for the Giants offense under head man Eli Manning.

Also…

Tags: David Wilson, Domenik Hixon, Eli Manning, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Kevin Gilbride, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle

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67 Responses to “New York Giants Have Tools in Place to Fix 3rd Down Woes in 2013”

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  1.  Barbarossa says:

    While I find all the speculation about what happens this off-season vis-a-vis OT interesting, unfortunately we do not really possess the information needed to make an informed guess. Without knowing what is going on with the Beatty negotiations, Brewer’s readiness to challenge for a stating position and to a lesser extent Mosley and McCants we are in the dark as far as what JR will do. As far as the 19th pick goes here is the only thing I think is a sure bet. Talent always falls in the first because of GM’s who draft purely for need, if someone falls and the value is there, especially if it is even vaguely a position of “need” for us, I think JR will snap them up.

  2.  TheCatch says:

    “You have to believe offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will find ways to open up the field next year.” I’ll try

  3.  TheCatch says:

    Realistically I’m hoping that David Wilson can make something out of nothing on inside hand offs on first down everytime we get inside the 30.

  4.  fanfor55years says:

    Good piece.

    Opening up the field is critical. It amazes me that people still refuse to accept that the injury to Nicks combined with that to Hixon and the belated maturity of Wilson and Randle had an awful lot to do with Eli’s lousy season. Eli wasn’t great this year, but if you look at how he did early, before every defense knew they didn’t have to worry about Nicks and could focus on Cruz and Bennett, and that the Giants’ running game was not going to scare anyone this season, he was far better in clutch situations and his play had plenty to do with getting out of the gate 6-2. It was all downhill from there, albeit against better teams and better defenses.

    In 2014 they start with a healthy Nicks, Cruz and Randle and no doubt that creates some huge problems for any defense. Add the judicious use of Bennett and Wilson (and Brown and Bradshaw, for that matter), and they can create enormous problems for any defense if their run game is even slightly better than mediocre. Assuming they have progress on the offensive line I can see next season being a pretty terrific offensive display. My one concern is depth. Can we get adequate depth at the receiver spots? I hope Hixon is here. Jernigan should be ready to do some damage. But you cannot have Ramses Barden-types on the roster, guys who just take up space. It’s nice to have receivers with size, but more important to have receivers that can demand real coverage and worry a defense. The idea is to force single-coverage much of the time on Nicks and Cruz (Randle will probably almost always have single coverage and should kill defenses next season as a result). Spread defenses around and have them not sure where the rotation of coverage should go. Do that and we’ll see a very good year of offense.

  5.  Krow says:

    I really have a much different take on the theme of this article. Third down is NOT the problem. Second down is the real culprit.

    Our inability to pick up decent yardage on second down puts us in far too many 3rd-and-long situations. Situations where the odds are against us.

    It just looks like we have a 3rd down issue because we don’t pick up the first down. But the reason is because it’s usually 3rd-and-9. Not something manageable. And the reason for that is because we fail on 2nd down.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      While being productive on first and second downs helps it’s not what caused us to be ineffective on the 3rd downs. You have to convert on 3rd downs in today’s NFL. In 2011, we were great on 3rd down, especiallly in the playoffs. I think this piece is correct. While 3rd might not be the only issue, it was the main one.

  6.  kujo says:

    The reality is that what is typically meant by “3rd down woes” is really short “yardage woes.” And the best way to ameliorate those problems is to be able to run the ball effectively between the tackles. That means bolstering the interior of our offensive line. Boothe, Baas and Snee are, collectively, okay. Nothing more than that–Boothe is an overachiever, Baas has been utterly unimpressive, and Snee has never been a mauler, instead being one of the tougher athletic breeds of guards.

    Since there’s very little chance that we pay big money or use a high draft pick on a an interior lineman, we’ve got to hold out hope that Baas’ 3rd year is better than his first 2, that Snee’s hip problems clear up, and that we either retain Boothe on the cheap, or get some production out of at least one of Mosley, McCants and Cordle.

    This is the key, as I see it. Being able to run the ball better overall, but between the tackles in particular, will help open up the offense overall and clear up a lot of these 3rd down “woes.”

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I think you overlooking the 3rd and medium to long problem we had this year as well. We haven’t been good in short yardage for years. I actually thought we were the best I have seen in short yards in several years before Brown got hurt. While the OL can be improved only Brown has been a good short yard runner over the past several seasons.

      •  kujo says:

        You’re right–Brown was the best between-the-tackles short yardage runner we’ve had here in ages. That period of time also coincided with the healthiest stretch our OL had all year.

  7.  kujo says:

    @calvinwatkins Jason Garrett isn’t calling offensive plays. Bill Callahan is calling the plays

    •  Krow says:

      Cowboys are in full meltdown mode. Jerrah is the problem, and thank goodness he’s going nowhere.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Is Callahan now with the Cowboys? And does this refer to what will happen next season with them or is it related to one of the games for college kids to showcase themselves?

  8.  GOAT56 says:

    Everything said about Hixon is true. I just wonder if he’s some one that will be replaced ust because we had a poor year. Sometimes you keep people for similar reasons. Also, I wonder if he is willing to settle for a 4th or 5th WR role. I think seeing some fellow WRs like Thomas struggle when they left my cause him pause. But players want to play so if there’s an opportunity for a 3rd WR role I think he could want to leav and/or be offered more money.

    With Randle and Jernigan basically guaranteed among our top 5 WRs a vet would be helpful. But if we feel like Jernigan and a guy like Douglass are both ready then maybe it’s time to move on. Hixon is someone I would prefer back but can see it being time to move on.

    •  Krow says:

      Hixon is a great guy. But he’s depth. Quality depth, but depth. With a long history of injuries. He’s not going to get any offers of substance. He’ll be back.

    •  Eric S says:

      You’ve mentioned Douglas before, I’m assuming you mean preseason fave David Douglas? Tampa Bay claimed from our PS remember? Thus they had to carry him on their 53 man roster. He’s under contract with them until 2015 when he becomes an RFA, unless they cut him of course.

  9.  Krow says:

    In other news … Jerruh has taken play calling away fron Garrett. Welcome to the cellar of the NFC East Cowboys.

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