Giants' offense will feature plenty of new looks

Change was necessary. The New York Giants' offense last season was inconsistent at best, and downright infuriating more often than not.

Their running game (29th in the NFL) was bad. Their passing game (17th in the NFL) never seemed to hit a rhythm. The Giants couldn't score points. They finished 26th with just 19.4 points per game, and the six teams below them didn't have a capable franchise quarterback.

With those kinds of struggles, things had to change. So the Giants went and upgraded their personnel, which subsequently will allow them to alter their approach.

They signed wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Rhett Ellison in free agency. They added tight end Evan Engram in the draft. This gives the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning a much more well-rounded array of weapons.

"Brandon gave us a big guy that Eli likes. That big red-zone guy. He's been around. The guy has made six Pro Bowls, I believe. He knows all the tricks of the trade and he's a big man," general manager Jerry Reese said Tuesday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York. "So we have a big receiver, we have a slot receiver in [Sterling] Shepard, we have speed on the outside and a dynamic outside receiver in Odell [Beckham Jr.], we have a blocking tight that in Rhett Ellison that we got in free agency and we have a super-fast tight end who can get down the field in Engram.

"We do have some weapons. We just have to put them in the right place and they have to make plays when we're out there."

It didn't happen last season with wide receiver Victor Cruz playing opposite Beckham and nary a blocking tight end on the roster. Cruz is currently a free agent after being released earlier this year. He had 39 receptions for 586 yards and one touchdown after missing most of the previous two seasons with leg injuries.

Cruz is now gone, and the new additions have coach Ben McAdoo thinking of dusting off plays and formations that were used during the 2015 season, when he was the Giants' offensive coordinator and they averaged 26.3 points per game. It was almost a full touchdown more than this past year.

The Giants used 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end and one running back) on more than 90 percent of their offensive plays this past season, including on all seven fourth-and-1 and fourth-and-2 situations. It was a head-scratcher even by Green Bay Packers standards.

McAdoo, who came from Green Bay and was raised in Mike McCarthy's 11-personnel-heavy West Coast offense, said continuously throughout the season that this was a product of their best lineup having Cruz and three receivers on the field. And the Giants wanted their best lineup on the field as often as possible.

It appears they have reconsidered this thinking. Their best overall lineup might not be their best lineup for every situation. McAdoo said Monday in an interview on WFAN that he expects this year's offense to be more multiple. With Engram, Ellison, Will Tye, Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse currently on the roster there should be more two-tight end sets. There might even be formations with, dare I suggest, a fullback.

The Giants are set to bring in fullback Shane Smith as an undrafted free agent. He was added to the mix after the draft.

All of a sudden, the Giants have options. It's different from last season, when they struggled at the tight end position and both their fullbacks suffered season-ending injuries in the summer. It left McAdoo without a fullback and spawned an offense that used almost exclusively 11 personnel.

This made life relatively easy for opposing defenses. They rarely had to change personnel when facing the Giants.

This season should be different. McAdoo appears more willing to use different looks, and he has some new pieces to potentially make it happen and work.