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Cowboys Game Plan Week Seven: Preparing For The Giants West Coast Scheme

A look at the Giants offense to see exactly what the Cowboys are preparing for in Sunday's match up.


Week Seven

Opponent: New York Giants

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Offensive Coordinator: Ben McAdoo

Quarterback: Eli Manning

Primary Running Threats:

  • Andre Williams - 44
  • Michael Cox - 29
  • Peyton Hillis - 33

Primary Receiving Threats:

  • Odell Beckham Jr - 13
  • Rueben Randle - 82
  • Larry Donnell - 84
  • Preston Parker - 83
  • Daniel Fells - 85


For several years, when you thought of the New York Giants' offense, you thought of Eli Manning throwing the ball to talented players like Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, or handing it to Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs, and pushing the ball down the field with regularity. However, when you watch this Giants team play in 2014, you see a much different offense. Of course much has been made throughout the offseason about the change in offensive coordinators, from Kevin Gilbride with his run and shoot background, to Ben McAdoo and his west coast offense. However through the first six weeks of the season, there were really only three players on the offense who were making plays with any regularity. Between handing the ball to Rashad Jennings, or throwing underneath to Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell, McAdoo began to find a rhythm in his first season as a play-caller in weeks three through five, and those three answered with big plays. When Cruz grabbed his knee in mid air on an incompletion in the end zone, and was subsequently carted into the locker room in tears, that left the Giants without two of their three play makers (this Sunday will mark Jennings second straight missed game after spraining his MCL week 5 vs Atlanta), and left Manning in a bind.

West Coast Staples- Working The Middle Of The Field

NYG HiLo Triple In Flood

Here we see the Giants in 01 (0 RB, 1 TE, 4 WR) personnel, in an empty set, where Victor Cruz has motioned from the right slot to the left, creating a quads bunch to Manning's left.  The route concept here is one of the basic west coast staples that has become a universal concept around the NFL, the "HiLo Triple In Flood" concept.

Here we see the outside WR  Preston Parker running the shallow cross (orange), which when combined with the dig route run by Donnell (yellow) create the HiLo piece of this concept. This pairing is very common through all levels of football, and when the angle route by Cruz (red) is added it creates the triple in.  The wheel route (blue) by Jernigan serves as a way to widen the defense to create space for the routes in the middle of the field.  Reuben Randle runs a go route from his backside alignment to clear out his man, and give plenty of room for Parker to run after the catch when he is targeted underneath.

While we may not see this particular personnel grouping or formation from the Giants on Sunday, you should expect to see them targeting the middle of the field, specifically with routes designed to attack the areas between the numbers and the hashmarks.

Using The Big Bodies In The Red Zone

One of the themes I noticed as I watched the Giants film was their tendency to target their tight ends in the red zone, and using various ways to get the ball not only to Donnell, but to Daniel Fells in the end zone.

NYG RZ Slants

Here we see the Giants in 12 ( 1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) personnel, in a 2x2 balanced set, using the basic slant-flat combination, with the flat route by the near side TE converting to a wheel.  On this play, the slant by Cruz draws the CB inside, and Fells' man isn't able to keep up with him as Manning hits him in the end zone for six points.


Here we see another basic concept, the Flat-7 (Corner) combination by the Giants out of jumbo (6 OL 2 RB 2 TE) personnel off of play action. Donnell motions to the wing on the right side, and runs the corner route, with full back Henry Hynoski running the flat. Fells runs a dig across the back of the end zone, and Manning is able to hit him in the void left by the safety chasing Donnell to the back pylon.


This is an example of Eli Manning taking advantage of the size mismatch that Donnell can provide in the red zone. The Giants are in 01 personnel again, and this time they run the Smash-7 combination to the left side, and a follow concept to the right, with the TE clearing out up the seam. However, because of Donnell's size, Manning is able to simple throw him open, by throwing to his back shoulder against Washington's man coverage look, for an easy score.


Here see the Giants in the deep red zone, this time in 11 (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) personnel in a Trips right formation. Lining up this way forces the Washington to roll their coverage towards the trips side, opening up a 1 on 1 situation for Donnell. The concept to the trips side is a double smash-7, and Donnell runs a post against the defender who is playing him with outside leverage. With a big body like that it's extremely difficult for that DB to play the ball on any in breaking route, and Manning has another easy throw for 6.


As I said before, this Giants offense seems to be suffering from a serious lack of legitimate playmakers. First round pick Odell Beckham Jr has flashed a ton of potential, but Cowboys fans are all too familiar with just how touchy hamstring issues can be for wide receivers (see Austin, Miles). Other than Beckham, the Giant's biggest hope for success lies on Larry Donnell, and his ability to use his body to make catches even when he is well covered.

We should expect to see Manning attack the middle of the field between the 20's, using various formation looks and base west coast concepts to move the ball, and once they get in the red zone, expect Donnell to be targeted early and often. I expect McAdoo to stick mostly to three step concepts after the Eagles sacked Manning six times and back up Ryan Nassib twice in week six, and try to get the ball out early to keep them ahead of the chains.

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