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New York Giants Strategic Tendencies: Offense

I'm introducing some new features next week (they're good), but don't have the ammunition needed to do them right this week. So, this all important matchup coincides with a bit of transition week for Field Gulls. Nevertheless, there're some old standards still worthy wheeling out. Let's start with a look at the Giants strategic tendencies on offense.


The Giants run a lot of three receiver sets. Consider, in 2007, Seattle ran many more 3+ WR sets (63%) than New York (49%), but Seattle also ran many more 4+ WR sets (17%) than New York (3%). Take the difference and you have two teams that employ 3 wide receivers on 46% of all plays. We can also deduce that (removing the small number of plays New York goes one wide or wide-less) New York employs 2 or 3 wide receivers on over 90% of all plays. Good news for a Seattle team three deep at competent corner.

The Giants run a traditional, run-heavy offense. In 2007, they ran on 43% of all plays, 10th in the NFL. That included some opponent blowouts, though, and given the chance, Tom Coughlin will run, run, run, run, run with a back or two. Or three. In contests they were down by fewer than ten points entering the half, or ahead, the Giants ran on 51.5% of all plays for the game. They were also 10-1. Still, the run wasn't simply a function of salting away a victory. Against the Bills, the Giants were ahead only 3 at the half and behind by 4 entering the fourth quarter, but ran the ball 47 times to only 16 pass attempts, scored 21 in the fourth and won by 17. Against the Bears, the Giants were down 6 at the half and 9 entering the fourth quarter, but ran the ball 37 times to only 28 pass attempts, scored 14 in the fourth and won by 5. Against the Jets, the Giants were down 10 at the half and 3 entering the fourth, but ran the ball 39 times to only 25 passes, scored 28 in the second half and 14 in the fourth and won by 11. In other words, short of a Seattle blowout, Coughlin won't abandon the run, no he'll run, run, run...

Just to round this out, and kudos Pro Football Prospectus for all the great info, the Giants are a play action team, running play action on 23% of all pass plays in 2007, fifth in the NFL. They're also old school when it comes to short yardage, running on short yardage 78% of the time, first in the NFL. And if Mike Martz likes to get the ball around, Kevin Gilbride keeps it in the family. In 2007, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey (who missed two games) accounted for 59% of all targets. Losing Shockey has just moved the targets to Steve Smith. In 2008, Burress, Toomer and Smith account for 60% of all targets.

It's an old school, smash mouth offense. Perhaps outdated, perhaps built for postseason success, but, whichever, as brutal and efficient as Fielding Yost's point-a-minute Wolverines when it's on.