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New York Giants Won’t Change Defense for New Wave of College-Style Offenses

January 27th, 2013 at 3:32 PM
By Paul Tierney

The NFL is an ever-evolving league in which challenging the norm can often bring about mockery and ridicule. When Denver Bronco's head coach John Fox drew up an option-style offense for quarterback Tim Tebow, most people around the NFL called it a gimmicky method that would not solve Denver's long-term problems at the quarterback position. However, when the Washington Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III last April, head coach Mike Shannahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan instituted the same college-style, read-option offense, they were praised for their innovation because of the degree of success they ran the system to .

'Giants Defense Huddle' photo (c) 2008, Ted Kerwin - license:

In past seasons, pundits have proclaimed the read-option offense as an unsustainable system because it risks significant injury to the quarterback. The Redskins found that out the hard way this season, as RG3 may miss a significant portion of 2013 with an ACL tear in his knee. However, with Russell Wilson and Colin Kapernick playing their teams deep into the 2012 postseason with a college-syle offense, the question becomes how defensive coordinators around the NFL change their defensive personnel to better defend those sets.

For New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, he does not see an immediate need to make drastic adjustments to either their scheme, or the players being brought in to defend opponents.

"Stick with what we do. We don’t worry about what other teams do, we draft the best players for us," Ross said. "And we think from that, we’ll be able to defend those kind of new-wave offenses. Last year, even the team we have now, we think we have the personnel to beat those guys, and we’re just trying to just get better at all positions to further do that. We’re not going to drastically change anything we do, based off of those new offenses."

With the Philadelphia Eagles addition of head coach Chip Kelly, the Giants could face a college-style offense five times next season. Along with their two annual matchups against the Redskins and Eagles, Big Blue will also square off against the Seattle Seahawks as well. In nearly a third of their games, the Giants will be facing new wave offenses that took the league by storm in 2012.

In fact, in two games against the Washington Redskins this season, the Giants gave up a total of 850 yards of total offense. Although Ross says that the team does not need to tailor their personnel to defend the read-option, Big Blue struggled mightily to defend Robert Griffin III and Co. last season. If the personnel is not going to change for these matchups, the defensive scheme better. Or else, the Giants will continue to fail against the mobile quarterbacks that are beginning to emerge as lethal weapons for opposing offenses.

However, around the NFL, teams are beginning to accept college-style offenses as an effective method. Although many see it as a fad similar to the Wild Cat, it's hard to doubt the logic behind the scheme. When the quarterback has to be constantly accounted for in the run game, it leaves the defense without enough players to defend the run. Former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo says he plans on practicing defending option-style football with whichever team he ends up with in 2013.

"All of us on defense are going to face this thing between two and five times a year, depending on what division you’re in," Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think it’s going to force us all, whether it is in five minutes of OTA's or five minutes of training camp practices, to actually work on option football."

It's difficult to discern if the read-option offense is here to stay. The system has been effective in allowing less talented teams compete with some of the best squads in the NFL. However, it allows the quarterback to get hit on nearly every play and drastically increase his risk of injury. If that's a risk team's are continually willing to take, then the Giants better find some speed on the defensive side of the football quickly, or else we could see them fail again in 2013.


Tags: Chip Kelly, Denver, Football, Marc Ross, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Eagles, Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks, Steve Spagnuolo, Tim Tebow, Washington, Washington Redskins

12 Responses to “New York Giants Won’t Change Defense for New Wave of College-Style Offenses”

  1.  TuckThis says:

    Whether the read-option offense is here to stay or not, one thing seems pretty clear…the Giants never seem to adjust to any new schemes. Their coaching staff is reticent to make any adjustments. Frustrating.

  2.  sonnymooks says:

    The defense as a whole needs an upgrade and at every position. This was, statistically, one of the worst Giants defenses in team history in terms of yardage and points allowed.

    The need another pass rusher, Osi is gone, Tuck is nearing his end with the Giants (and his best days are behind him), that leaves JPP to get double or triple teamed without help.

    They need DTs, they were getting gouged by running games, Austin may never be the player he could have been, he’s a very big question mark, Canty is not going to be the same, and there are health issues there.

    Then our LBs, between getting burned on pass plays and gouged on run plays, we had injuries. We NEED hard hitting physically intimidating HITTERS with speed. There must be a presence that deters there, and that can make plays and pop guys. We’ve needed this for years though, and have not been steller when it comes to drafting and/or acquiring LBs.

    Our CB’s and Safetys need young, healthy guys who can be playmakers AND play 16 to 19 games. With the WRs and TEs of today, we need big, fast and physical guys and we need them in the back 7. There are to many injuries back there with guys getting torched, and we are facing more dangerous passing attacks then ever now. The difficulty is only going to go up, thus, our talent needs to go up. Especially with the version of the cover 2 that we play not likely to change.

    And yes, while we need to upgrade our OL, unless its a stud who is vastly superior to any defensive player at that slot, I would be hesitant to go there early, we may have to settle for a project and coach him up and develop him, while hoping last years picks can contribute this year and also that Brewer can step in if Beatty is gone (and considering his age, and position and that he is a starter with a ring, someone WILL do something stupid and overpay him, so he is gone, he won’t get what he is worth, he will get MORE).

    Good news, we don’t have to draft a TE (assuming we retain Bennet), we drafted a TE last year, who has had a year of coaching from the best of the best in Pope, another offseason and training camp, and he should be able to contribute this year and we can tap into the talent.

    We don’t need running backs, we don’t need WRs (though if you see one that you think is a future pro-bowler, and he is vastly better then anyone else at the spot, grab it as a value pick). We don’t a need QB (it feels good saying that).

    This draft should be defense heavy with OL being the only position on offense that we grab. Not just for now, but for the future. We have a nice size window with a young WR corps (if we re-sign those guys), young and developing TEs and a future stud RB and probowl QB. We just need line help on that side of the ball, but we aren’t going anywhere with a 6,000 yard defense unless we start catching breaks on a miracle run.

    Personally, I like to avoid Free Agency, but its spackle, we have to look there to fill the cracks for the short term, but I’d rather develop our own guys, but FA should not affect the draft, the draft should affect our free agency.

  3.  PittsburghJim says:

    NFL Net just showed last year’s Supe win over Pats.

    Was that REALLY only 12 months ago????

    Saw Manningham, Ware, Kareem & Tollefson.

    Glad….but sad.

    What a very fragile sport to grab & hold onto when you’re “on top”.

  4.  GmenMania says:

    The Giants won’t change their defensive scheme or adjust to new offensive approaches….


  5.  fanfor55years says:

    Wait a minute. No need to start thinking the defense is hopeless.

    We have JPP, Kiwi almost certainly switching to DE, Joseph coming off a very disappointing season but still talented, Williams clearly a model “new prototype weak-side linebacker”, Prince looking like he could be only a preseason away from joining the ranks of the top corners, a great athlete in Hosley who can definitely play slot corner and may still have potential on the outside because of his incredible closing speed and vertical ability, Rolle, and Hill and brown, two very promising young safeties.

    Add to that three players who might have comeback seasons: Canty, Tuck and Webster. And as far as I’m concerned, add Paysinger and Tracy and Kuhn into the mix as players who have looked really good in stretches. And then there’s Ojomo. Hard to tell for sure, but what I saw in the last preseason game (and since I bothered to go I watched him for EVERY play he was in regardless of what was happening with the play) was a kid who looked to me like a great natural and was humiliating starting tackles and their backups that game.

    I’m not saying they don’t need more. They do. But I think adding a truly terrific DT and one impact linebacker, plus a young corner, might be all they need right now. They will need to draft well this April and next, but when has the Giants’ draft room not drafted well since Reese’s arrival in the GM’s seat?

    I love defense. But it’s an “offense league” now, and as the defenses catch up the competition committee will change more rules to keep scoring up. That’s what this generation of fans wants, and that’s what Fantasy Football needs (FF is now the second most important driver of audiences, after gambling, and those players want points). As much as I would like to see the league and the Giants go back to rock ‘em sock ‘em trench warfare and defense-dominated football, that won’t happen. Truth be told you cannot allow your offense to slack off or you’re in trouble, and as long as you do that you can get by with a “decent” defense. Ours was not decent in 2012. It needs to be there in 2013 and hope for better in 2014.

    Over two drafts (or through UDFA signings) we need two studly offensive linemen, a really strong DT (actually, a pair would be nice), an impact linebacker and a B+ linebacker, and 2-3 excellent defensive backs. Throw in a few receivers and a few pass rushers, and one strong kicker and we’re there.

    By the way, I suspect we’ll see Rogers or Thomas back as a veteran defensive tackle to get in the rotation this season. Our linebackers played very poorly in 2012, but no one was keeping people away from them either. We need one of our DTs to occupy two offensive linemen. A healthy Canty can do that, but will he be healthy? Joseph did not do it consistently in 2012. He has to be better.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    One relatively easy adjustment can be made to help against the read-option offense: have the defensive ends stand up rather than get into a three-point stance. That should make it easier to see what’s going on in the backfield and make it easier to know whether to pinch or protect the edge.

    If Fewell doesn’t at least do that he’s nuts. But I won’t hold my breath. I just don’t feel much confidence in this guy.

    •  G-MenFan says:

      Well, I don’t think anyone but the front office has confidence in this guy. Why should we? How many times can you watch a defense fail to stop a third down conversion, regardless of the yardage needed?

      Perry Fewell is energetic…but he’s not INTENSE. And his defense is neither.

  7.  Krow says:

    Just because teams are kicking a$$ with something new doesn’t mean we have to scheme to stop them from kicking our a$$ too.

    Yeah, that’s brilliant. Let’s just keep doing what we failed with this year. No need to change.

    •  G-MenFan says:

      I’m hoping this is just smoke and mirrors. I’m thinking that Coughlin is demanding that Fewell scheme up a foil to this stuff. I hope TC is NOT thinking that he just has to come up with a better t-shirt slogan.

  8.  GmenMania says:


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