The New York Giants have started terribly in each of the last two seasons: 0-6 in 2013 and 3-9 in 2014.
This year, however, the Giants, who won three of their final four games last season, are expected to contend in the AFC East. But in order to challenge Dallas and Philadelphia, they have to run the football better. New York was seventh in the league in passing offense last season but just 23rd in rushing.
Have the Giants become a pass-first team, or is that just perception?
“I think we need to run the ball better,” Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That starts with us. We didn’t run the ball terribly well last year, so maybe it looked like it was more pass-first. But the way the offense is set up, though, there are times when we do call runs and Eli throws the ball, just because that’s the best option. That’s what the NFL has moved to. This is my eighth year. It used to be when I was a rookie (or) second-year guy, you called the run, you ran the run. You didn’t care what the defense did. If they had an eighth guy in the box, you were running the ball. Nowadays, you take advantage of that type of stuff. If you see a defense who’s showing man coverage, we’re going to throw the ball to Odell. Thats the way it works now. So I don’t know if that’s really the reality. I do think we’re pretty balanced with run and pass, but Eli might throw more just because the defense is giving us throws.”
Especially since he has Odell Beckham Jr. at his disposal. One of the top receivers in football last year, Beckham, a rookie, finished with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns – in just 12 games. Beckham also had his fair share of highlight-reel catches.
“He practices those one-handed catches,” Schwartz said. “He’s out there 15, 20 minutes before practice practicing that type of stuff. It doesn’t just happen – and that’s what people think, that a lot of us in the NFL and athletes (in general), it just happens for us. It doesn’t (just) happen. He’s been practicing this stuff.”
Looking around the division, a lot of roster swapping has taken place in recent seasons, with DeSean Jackson going from Philadelphia to Washington and DeMarco Murray going from Dallas to Philadelphia – just to name two examples.
The Cowboys won the division last year, but the Eagles have gone 10-6 in each of Chip Kelly’s first two seasons in Philly. Schwartz, an Oregon product, played under Kelly when Kelly was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator.
“I’m surprised (his system) has worked as much (as it has in the NFL),” Schwartz admitted. “In college, we rotate a lot of guys. You can dress, I think, 20 more guys in college. So the first three or four games, we’re playing eight offensive linemen. We’re just rotating guys in. We’re rotating eight wide receivers and four running backs and four tight ends so you rotate and you stay fresh. (In the) NFL, you can’t do that. I do think even last year if you look, their defense was on the field a lot toward the end of the season. That’s because if the offense is not going well, (the defense will be on the field a lot). Same with Oregon football now. When the offense is not going well, the defense is on the field too much and then they get run over. That’s what’s happening sometimes when you run those high-tempo offenses. A lot of teams that run them, you find that if you get a lot of three-and-outs, your defense just gets tired. You can’t rotate guys because you don’t dress as many guys as you do in college.”