Saturday Walkthrough: New York Giants
Studying X’s & O’s for a scouting report on the upcoming Broncos game
The Denver Broncos are set to face the New York Giants this Sunday to kick off the first game of the year for both teams. I studied the Giants to know what we could expect from Joe Judge & company.
New York had a complete identity shift on defense a quarter through their 2020 season. Early on, they were a traditional 3-3-5 unit that played mostly Cover 3 & Cover 1 always sending an additional rusher. Their Cover 3 would roll opposite of the teams best corner (Bradbury in this case). When in Cover 1, teams targeted the corner opposite of Bradbury and found lots of success doing so. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham realized this, and catered his scheme to his players, instead of the other way around.
Graham completely changed his Cover 1 and extra rusher usage and elected to become a zone heavy team getting pressure with the front four by use of stunts/games, simulated pressure and an exotic 5 man package. He also started manipulating box count numbers and forcing the opposing QB/C to be on top of their game. This is how they were able to defeat Russell Wilson and the Seahawks week 13.
The Giants showed a two high safety look to Wilson and the front seven shifted around to disrupt the offenses protection calls. Then, they rolled to a Cover 1 look and stunted their defensive line, looping the Mike around it. Wilson was fooled post-snap and had no where to go with the football.
In this clip, the Giants are in 2-man with the defensive line running a T/E stunt, where the tackle (3T) penetrates laterally looking to bump the OT out of position, and the end (5T) looping through the hole the 3T just made. Leonard Williams is one of the better stunt lineman in the league, due to his lateral quickness and stop-and-go ability.
Another aspect of the defense is their linebackers in regard to rallying to the ball. Once Graham shifted the identity of the team, he transitioned into the type of defense to give up the underneath and have defenders fly to the ball.
Blake Martinez here does a good job of reading Brady’s eyes and gunning it once he recognized the check down attempt, causing the fumble.
Attacking This Defense
Attacking this new defensive philosophy may be tough for offensive coordinators prone to employing a downfield attack like Pat Shurmur, but it can be done. Expect early on for a lot of gap schemes and rollouts. Shurmur will look to 3 level flood the offense and create a triangle read for Teddy Bridgewater when facing zone coverages.
When facing man coverage it may be even more difficult for the Broncos offense. Man coverage from the Giants likely means a player dropping from their gap into coverage with a creative blitz following it. Bridgewater and Cushenberry (along with the rest of the offensive line) have to have a damn good day to keep the offense clean. Expect Graham to try and confuse those two every chance he gets on obvious passing downs.
Now, if the pressure is blocked correctly, the offense could find success. This positional matchup has mismatches across the board. Jerry Jeudy vs anyone not named James Bradberry should be the focus, and Shurmur should be trying his best to isolate that matchup whether it be on the outside or inside. Noah Fant/Albert O vs any of those LB’s is another matchup Shurmur should focus on by use of 12P (2WR, 2TE, 1RB).
Ultimately, the story of this offense will be in the trenches for now and the coming future barring any offensive explosion from Teddy Bridgewater. Look for Shurmur to get Gordon and Williams in rhythm early and forcing the Giants to add to their box count, then the playbook will open up a bit.
The Giants offense led by Daniel Jones and Jason Garrett has been rough. Initially, everyone though Garrett would have his traditional Air Coryell vertical passing attack, but with the turnover issues that plague Daniel Jones, the scheme was much more static and QB friendly in 2020. On the ground, they are a physical rushing team with their concepts mostly consisting of duo, power and counter.
Their passing offense heavily relies on all personnel to win their individual matchups, which is one of the big knocks on the old Mike McCarthy system that got ran out of Green Bay. Garrett does very little to isolate his best receivers or matchup usually done by motion. The Giants ranked 22nd in pre-snap motion and I bet Garrett hears all the chatter, expect more pre-snap motion to make Daniel Jones’ life easier.
Garrett’s offense conceptually aims to target downfield, but with protection issues and turnover issues, he was forced to handicap the playbook. Most of Daniel Jones’ problems come from his inability to manage the pocket and operate out of structure. Good push from the front 7 in the run game, and good pressure from only the front 4 in the passing game could serve for a disaster with Jones at the helm.
One thing Garrett does well is create mismatches through formations. Over the years he’s stressed receiving threats at tight end to flood the field with threats, while also drawing the defenses base formation and mainly run stuffers on the field.
In this clip, Garrett comes out in 13P (1WR, 3TE’s, 1RB) and explodes to an empty formation, spreading out the run oriented personnel that Pittsburgh matched it with. Garrett spread them out and forced them to defend laterally, and threw a tosser (double slants) concept behind it.
One of Garrett’s staple passing concepts that I almost guarantee we will see, is ‘Triple Seam’,
This concept can attack most coverages and can be very efficient if you have an X receiver who can routinely win their 1 on 1 matchups. In Dallas that was Dez Bryant, in New York it seems to be Kenny Golladay.
Now, of course, another threat is Saquon Barkley, who is trending towards playing in the game. Any time he gets the ball he is dangerous. Whether it be screens or giving him a heavy workload early (which probably won’t happen given the ACL), Garrett is going to focus on getting his playmaker the ball early and let him try and set the tone of the game. Garrett will try and get him around the edge to Denver’s secondary, aiming to avoid having to run behind the interior offensive lineman which have proved to be a liability.
Keys Of The Game
Control from the LOS-5 yards early on
By run, or by quick game, Denver has to control this area of the field. You cannot let the defenders in the box disrupt your protection calls or let Graham feel comfortable sending stunts or pressure, and the way to do that is efficiently moving the ball getting to 3rd and shorts and moving the chains. Avoid obvious passing downs.
Isolate Jerry Jeudy on 1 on 1 matchups
Shurmur has to get creative when lining up Jeudy. Move him around pre-snap, get him in the slot in empty formations lining up on the #3 in split field coverages, get him the ball in advantageous spots.
Much easier said than done, but Barkley cannot set the tempo of the game early and dictate our box count. Avoid being outgapped and be disciplined when in the box.