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Cowboys Game Plan Week Seven: Putting Pressure On Eli Manning

The Giants offense has undergone a huge overhaul. Will it help the Giants this year, or will it take more than one season to become efficient in this new system?

Huh? The Cowboys are 5-1?
Huh? The Cowboys are 5-1?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants had been using the same basic offense for the last 28 seasons. Let that sink in, 28 seasons with the same basic offense. So, the elephant in the room is...will this new offense be an improvement? Will it help Eli Manning and the Giants fulfill the goal of switching to this West Coast offense, which is to increase the completion percentage and get the ball out quicker? Or will the leaning curve actually cause them to take a step back?

Week Seven:

Opponent: New York Giants

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Offensive Coordinator: Ben McAdoo

Offensive Scheme: Fast paced West Coast offense with smash-mouth principles

Projected Starters:

  • WR1 - Ruben Randle - # 82
  • LT - Will Beatty - # 65
  • LG - Winston Richburg - # 70
  • C - J.D. Walton - # 55
  • RG - John Jerry - # 77
  • RT - Justin Pugh - # 67
  • TE - Larry Donnell - # 84
  • WR2 - Odell Bechham Jr. - # 13
  • QB - Eli Manning - # 10
  • FB - Henry Hynoski - # 45
  • RB - Rashad Jennings - # 23 Andre Williams - # 44


Last year Eli Manning led the NFL with 27 interceptions and he completed only 57.5% of his passes. This year against the Houston Texans, Manning completed 70% of his passes which is the goal that new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo set for him. Manning has been 12% more accurate than his career average. The other goal of getting the ball out quicker to cut down on his sacks has also been met. Manning averaged 2.65 seconds to get the ball out of his hands in 2013, and it is down to only 2.26 seconds so far this year.

The puzzling thing is the offensive line play. Manning was sacked eight times by the Eagles, but going into the Philadelphia Eagles game last week, we find this interesting quote in this article praising the play of the offensive line:

"The offensive line has been one of the best in football. Again via PFF, the Giants’ offensive line allowed Manning to get hit or significantly pressured on 40.3% of his drop-backs last season—sixth-worst in the NFL. This year that number is down to 21.3%, the lowest rate in the league. General manager Jerry Reese and Coughlin overhauled the interior line before the season. Rookie left guard Weston Richburg (above average), center J.D. Walton (average), and right guard John Jerry (average) have helped a very solid tackle combination of Will Beatty on the left and Justin Pugh on the right. That’s not even including free-agent find Geoff Schwartz, who should be ready to return from short-term IR (dislocated big toe) after Week 8. The left side has been magnificent over the past three games, though it will be tested by Trent Cole on Sunday night."

So, we have to wonder if the Eagles found the chink in the Giants offensive line armor, or was it just the fact that the Eagles are just too good at rushing the passer? They are second in the NFL with 19 sacks.

The guy that Dallas might want to attack is Justin Pugh. He is the weakest pass-blocker they have, but the Eagles also may have found the key to getting pressure by applying relentless speed rushes on the outside against both tackles. I think it is a given that getting pressure by blitzing the "A-gap" is one of the best strategies a defense can employ, but in the Giants case, perhaps both tackles are not able to handle the speed rush.

It looks like Preston Parker will replace Victor Cruz as their slot receiver, but the biggest threat would appear to be their monster tight end Larry Donnell. He has really been outstanding and extremely difficult to defend, especially in the red-zone. Also Andre Williams will probably replace the injured Rashad Jennings.

I am hoping that Rob Marinelli will put Sterling Moore on Donnell as I feel he is the best defensive back we have when it comes to covering a tight end. I have felt that way since watching him in past years and seeing how much of a big game player he is.

We also may see more two tight end sets if Manning continues to run for his life as he did against the Eagles.


While the Eagles got eight sacks, there were two or three that had a similar look and some were stunts. Whether the ones that had a similar look was a planned strategy or not, I can't be sure, but if it was planned it was a pretty good idea. Let's look at one of them:

In FIG 1 below we see that both Conner Barwin and Vinny Curry are taking the wide speed rush. While Barwin is staying with that deep loop around from the backside rush, Curry waited until Manning Stepped up into the pocket and then as we see in FIG 2 Curry spun around to the inside and Manning was right there for the sack. The next time this was done it was Curry that stayed deep and Barwin got the sack by spinning back inside.



While three of the sacks were after the two minute warning at the end of the game when the game was all but settled and Manning was sitting on the sidelines watching in disgust, eight sacks is still eight sacks.


The Giants under Kevin Gilbride as their offensive coordinator ran a receiver option type of offense. When the Giants broke the huddle, the receivers had no idea what route they were going to run. Once at the line of scrimmage they studied the defensive set, then they would look at how the defender was playing them. If the defender was playing inside leverage, then the receiver would run one route, if he was playing outside leverage then he would run the opposite route. If he was playing straight-up then he ran an even different route.

This option type of route running for all the receivers made for a very good scheme, but it depended upon giving the quarterback plenty of time to read the routes to allow the receiver come open. It also was very risky as the quarterback and receivers had to be on the same page or there would be lots of interceptions.

Eli Manning was in this offensive system for all of his 10 years with the Giants. He now is learning the same system that the Green Bay Packers run which is a variation of what many call the west coast offense.

So, again, has Manning had enough snaps in this new system to get out of 10 years worth of habits? Can the Cowboys get enough pressure on Manning to make him nervous, or will this dink and dunk offense be able to sustain drives like they did when they were on their three game winning streak?

If the Cowboys can't get good pressure on Manning, this just may be a very close game.

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