EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A week off and some time away from football won’t spit out a completely new-look football team when the New York Giants return to the field on Sunday. The Giants will look pretty much like, well, the Giants from the first seven games of the season. Only the hope is they operate a little smoother and effectively.
All the self-scouting and internal assessments of what went right and wrong for the Giants hasn’t create the need for an overhaul. The Giants (4-3) have a winning record. They’re in second place in the NFC East. Coach Ben McAdoo intends to “stick to the plan,” beginning Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium.
That means there will continue to be a ton of three-wide-receiver sets. There will be a similar quick-pass offense that gets the ball out of quarterback Eli Manning's hand quickly. There will be a defense that plays its starting defensive ends -- Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul -- almost every snap and uses endless bump-and-run, man-to-man coverage on the outside.
There will be some subtle changes, just not revamped philosophies or lineups.
“We definitely want to put wrinkles in, take a look at things, and I think it is just as important to throw some things out and understand what you can fix, what isn’t worth fixing and what fits your personnel the best,” McAdoo said. “In the first half of the season, you are really taking a look at not only the new schemes and new thoughts from the offseason, but how new players fit into the system and if it is young players, if it is rookies, really see how they are adjusting to the program and how they are fitting in."
Seven games provided a solid look. Some of the alterations may be:
It doesn’t appear as if anyone is flat-out being benched. There are, however, some players expected to be acclimated or de-acclimated, as McAdoo explained it, earlier this week. They are ...
At running back … Paul Perkins' role will increase significantly, beginning this week. He may not start or dominate the snaps, but he’ll be further integrated into the Giants’ offense as they move away from their power-run game in hopes of creating more plus-plays on the edges.
The Giants are trying to bolster their league-worst rushing attack. They enter Sunday averaging 70.3 yards per game. One way to do that is to try more runs on the edges with outside zone or some other run concepts they rarely used in the first seven games. That appears to be the way they’re headed.
At tight end … It should now be a three-man rotation with Larry Donnell, Will Tye and rookie Jerell Adams, whose workload will increase slightly. Adams likely isn’t going to start or play a majority of the snaps, but it appears he’ll be a part of the tight end rotation. The opportunity will be there for any of the three to step into a bigger role.
The Giants need more production from their tight ends as both blockers and receivers. Adams may be able to help, or he may help light a fire under Donnell and/or Tye. Be ready for a three-man on-field competition.
At safety … Darian Thompson’s return was stunted by an uncooperative foot. Even if Nat Berhe returns this week, he’s likely to be eased in with rookie Andrew Adams remaining the starter. Adams has been surprisingly competent as an undrafted rookie who began the season on the practice squad. He hasn’t been a liability in pass coverage and has 19 tackles, two passes defended and a quarterback hit in four starts.
Wide receiver movement
The Giants spent much of the first seven games of the season with Sterling Shepard in the slot and Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz on the outside. It should remain that way for a majority of the snaps on Sunday.
But don’t be surprised to see the Giants wide receivers move around more than they did in the first half of the season when Beckham was in the slot just 7 percent of the time. That’s a spot he played on 19 percent of the offensive snaps last year, and where he caught 32 passes for 467 yards and two touchdowns
The goal coming off the bye and moving forward is to prevent double-teams against Beckham. Moving the receivers around is one semi-solution.
“We’re doing the best that we can right now at finding ways to move around, not let them double so much,” Beckham said earlier this week. “Even at times running the linebacker underneath. It’s definitely tough. It’s tough to go against, and it’s tough to want to be successful. You’re faced against some great obstacles.”
Playing Beckham in the slot more could help. McAdoo reiterated Friday that Shepard is cross-trained at multiple positions and is capable of playing in any spot
That would allow Beckham to slide inside. He's more than willing.
“I’m all in to move around, cause controversy and make it difficult for the defense,” Beckham said. “Getting in the slot, it allows you to get a different look. It’s tougher to double someone in the slot. It leaves too much open. Hopefully I get back in there. We have a great slot guy right now. All three of us could go in there, pretty much go wherever they tell you to go, run what we’re going to run.”
They should get the chance over the final nine games, beginning Sunday against the Eagles.