EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If you feel like the New York Giants have been running the ball a lot, you're not crazy. So far this season, the Giants are running the ball more than almost any other team in the NFL.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Giants' rush percentage (the percentage of offensive plays on which the quarterback does not drop back to pass) is 45.1 percent. That's the fourth-highest percentage in the league, behind only Dallas, Cleveland and Houston.

They run the ball on first down 52.2 percent of the time, which is the ninth-highest figure in the league.

They run the ball on second down 48.3 percent of the time, which is the second-highest figure in the league.

They run the ball on third down 24.5 percent of the time, which is the third-highest figure in the league.

The Giants run and run and run and run. They run when they're ahead in the game and they run when they're behind. They run whether it's working or not.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Brandon WadeEli Manning and the Giants are committed to balance in their offense this season.
And they're not going to stop anytime soon.

"You've got to have balance," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the Giants ran the ball 42.4 percent of the time in Sunday's 31-21 loss in Dallas. "We're not just going to turn the ball over because we refuse to run. That's not what we're about."

There you have it. This reliance on the run is not the result of sloppy or haphazard play calling. This is a deep-rooted philosophy to which Coughlin and the Giants have committed in the wake of a 2013 season in which they committed 44 turnovers -- a stomach-turning figure that led the league by 10. The Giants are scared straight, which is why they're not throwing the ball downfield as much, why their quarterback is throwing it away more often, and why they're leaning so hard on the run.

The Giants have given the ball away 13 times so far this year, which isn't great. It's tied for the fourth-highest total in the league, and only two off the league-leading total of 15 shared by Jacksonville and Washington. But of those 13, only five have been interceptions, and four of those five came in the first two weeks of the season. Eli Manning hasn't thrown an interception in any of his last three games.

"We haven't had an interception in a couple of weeks, and that has been a very important part, I think, of our ability to control our game," Coughlin said Monday. "If we can get it under control, we will do it that way. Now, what to do about guys who can't catch the ball, put it away, cover it up without getting it stripped? That's another issue. We have had our issues with that."

The Giants do lead the league with eight lost fumbles, three of which have come on special teams. But those can't be controlled by game-planning or strategy. Those are either the result of luck, which corrects itself, or poor technique, which the coaches can correct on the practice field.

Running the ball more and taking fewer risks in the passing game is a way for the Giants to try to get control of their turnover situation. And remember to keep this year's numbers in perspective. Tied for fourth in the league in turnovers is a heck of a lot better than leading the league by 10.

"It's tough in this league if you sit back there and throw it 50 times a game," Manning said. "That puts a lot of pressure on the offensive line and me and the receivers, because you're going to get a lot of coverages. When you're running it and you have a commitment to run like we were Sunday, it's going to bring a safety in the box, it's going to give you some better throwing situations.

"We're going to be committed to doing it. We just have to get back to where we're getting successful runs. It's not like we've got to run for 150 yards, but on first and second down, when they're giving you the run looks, we've got to get those four and five yards just to keep the down and distance in shape. We're just having too many runs where we're losing yards, we're getting negative-two yards. We can't be going backwards. That's what hurts you."

For more on how they fix that, check back in Thursday.

Eli Manning among players in PSAs

October, 22, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is among nearly two dozen current and former NFL players appearing in a new series of public service announcements denouncing domestic violence and sexual assault.

Officials of the No More Project said Wednesday that the players will appear in video and print PSAs to shed light on the issues. Several had personal experiences with the issues, including Troy Vincent, an NFL executive whose mother is a survivor of domestic violence, and Pittsburgh cornerback William Gay, whose mother was killed by an abusive partner.

Celebrities, athletes, corporate sponsors and others donated resources for the spots. The new video PSAs will premiere during "Thursday Night Football" this week when the San Diego Chargers play the Denver Broncos.

Previous spots from the group have aired more than 27,000 times nationwide since September 2013, in addition to being shown during the past 4 weeks of NFL game broadcasts.


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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- "Where did Larry Donnell come from?" is one of the big early questions of this New York Giants season, and the answer defies simple explanation.

Donnell was on the team last year in a reserve role -- a special-teams player who was working to develop as an offensive asset at tight end. He was a basketball player early in life and a quarterback when he arrived at Grambling for college, so tight end was new to him and he had to learn it. He's still learning it.

"One of the big things is his confidence level," Giants tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said Tuesday. "He didn't play with a level of confidence last year that he's now playing with in the passing game, certainly, and that he's starting to develop in the run game, as well."

[+] EnlargeLarry Donnell
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsLarry Donnell made three receptions as a Giants rookie. This season, he already has 33 catches for 332 yards and four red zone touchdowns.
That's a word -- "develop" -- that gets tossed around and often ignored in today's hyper-impatient NFL. We hear so much about how precious those 53-man roster spots are that we forget that some of them are occupied by players who aren't ready yet to make major contributions. Every roster has at least a handful of developmental players -- guys who aren't yet ready to start or even be active on Sundays but who've shown at least some inkling of promise that makes it worth the team's time to keep working with them throughout the week.

Donnell was such a player last year. Heck, he was such a player as recently as August. In many ways, he's still such a player. But he's better, for example, at getting open now than he was a year ago or even a few months ago, and the Giants' coaching staff can get really specific if you want to know how.

"One specific is a release off the line of scrimmage where a linebacker has inside leverage and he's going to try to collision you," Gilbride said. "In the past, what Larry would do is just try to bow around the defender, and that's not a good thing. What the defender does at that point is, he collisions you and widens you outside of where we want you to be. It muddies the picture, the whole picture for the quarterback.

"And what [Donnell] has done is, he's taken the coaching point of, if the defender takes that approach, attack to his inside leverage and then be violent with that defender. Don't try to bow around him. And you'll see, as you see him running routes, he'll take his single hand and swipe down and he slips right by defenders. And that puts defenders in an adverse situation and gets him an opportunity to get down the field."

That's one example. "One of many," Gilbride said. But it didn't happen overnight. Donnell's improvement is an example of slow, persistent work and development -- a player who understands the value of learning and practicing things with which he's not automatically comfortable.

"It doesn't necessarily just 'click.' You have to do it," Gilbride said. "And that's what he's done. Instead of continuing to take his bad habits and bang his head against the wall because it's not working ... he tries to put it into practice. And when you attempt to put it into practice and then you have some success with it, then moving forward, you like to keep that approach."

Donnell is still just 25 years old, and in spite of the obvious gains he's made as a player, he remains obviously inconsistent. Three touchdown catches one week, no catches at all the next. Two fumbles this past week in a close game in Dallas. Some weeks he's a good run-blocker, other weeks he gets overrun in the run game. That's his next frontier, and it's an important one.

"Finishing blocks with effort and strength in his hands," Gilbride said, "that's another area that still does need to continue to improve. But when he does play that way with confidence, he does well."

Donnell is still developing, so the gains are interspersed with setbacks and struggles. The encouraging thing for the Giants is that Donnell is an eager and willing student, and the successes this year are proof that his hard work and open-mindedness to teaching can pay off. That makes them believe the development will continue, and that he'll continue to get better. And as the Giants work this year to incorporate all of their new, young faces into their new offense, they need as many guys like that as possible.

Giants to go with more Damontre Moore

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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ESPN Giants reporter Dan Graziano says second-year defensive lineman Damontre Moore will see more playing time in November because of an injury to Cullen Jenkins.
New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason was in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday to once again see foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson about his persistent toe injury. In a radio interview Tuesday, Beason said a determination would be made Wednesday about whether to finally have season-ending surgery to repair the injury, which cost him all of training camp, three full games already this season and the second half of Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Beason
"It's gotten progressively worse over the last couple of games," Beason said on WFAN radio in New York. "Right now I'd say it's 50-50. I'm still deciding if the smart thing is to go ahead and get it fixed and get ready for next season."

Beason injured his toe in the spring and sat out all of training camp with the injury. He aggravated it in Week 2 and missed three games in a row (all of which, he jokingly pointed out last week, the Giants won) before returning in Week 6 in Philadelphia. He aggravated it again Sunday, prompting the latest doctor visit.

When Beason has not been on the field, Jameel McClain has moved to middle linebacker to replace him and either Devon Kennard or Mark Herzlich has replaced McClain as the strongside linebacker. The Giants have at least five defensive backs on the field enough, however, that they usually only need two linebackers on the field.

Still, they made re-signing Beason a priority in the offseason due to the effect his play and leadership at middle linebacker had on them after they acquired him in a trade in 2013. So their strong preference would be to have him healthy and available for the rest of the season. They may find out Wednesday that they don't.
A 10-point road loss to the team with the best record in the NFL shouldn't hurt you too much in the eyes of those who do things like week-to-week NFL Power Rankings, and so the New York Giants fall only one spot this week, down to No. 21.

They are one spot behind the Cleveland Browns and one spot ahead of the New Orleans Saints, a couple of teams that have been surprises for different reasons. At 3-4 through seven games, it's about where they ought to be.

The 6-1 Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Giants on Sunday, are ranked No. 2, behind only the Denver Broncos. The 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles, who beat the Giants the week before and were off this week, are ranked No. 3. So the NFC East is well represented near the top, though I doubt that offers Giants fans any comfort. They're still ahead of No. 26 Washington, though.

The Giants are off this week and return from the bye with a bit of a gauntlet:

Nov. 3 -- vs. No. 4 Indianapolis

Nov. 9 -- at No. 11 Seattle

Nov. 16 -- vs. No. 12 San Francisco

Nov. 23 -- vs. No. 2 Dallas

Then things soften up with games against No. 31 Jacksonville, No. 28 Tennessee, No. 26 Washington and No. 24 St. Louis before the season finale against the Eagles. If they can get to that part of their schedule without getting beaten up too badly, they may still have an outside shot to make some noise before this season is over.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the New York Giants lost top wide receiver Victor Cruz to a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, the coaching staff had a clear message for Odell Beckham Jr.

"I said to Odell, 'Your rookie season is over now. You're not a rookie anymore. Congratulations, you're a vet,'" Giants wide receivers coach Sean Ryan said Tuesday.

Beckham has spoken since Cruz's injury about understanding that he needs to take on a greater role. Big things were expected of the Giants' 2014 first-round pick, and his arrival in the NFL was delayed four weeks by a nagging hamstring injury. But he caught two touchdown passes in Sunday's loss to Dallas and has three in as many games so far. The Giants aren't afraid to use him in spite of his lack of experience.

"There are going to be bumps in the road because of his youth and trying to figure everything out," Ryan said. "And you fix it as you go and you get the details right, and that's where we're at right now. The talent's there, it's clear to see. But the details have to come now and they have to come quick. There's no time. Those details have to be hammered out right now."

Ryan said Beckham has done a good job making up for lost time by seeking out extra help in film and meeting rooms, as well as on the practice field.

"He's in there for extra meeting time," Ryan said. "He does what he can. If I'm stuck in a meeting and can't meet with him, he'll meet with somebody else. In terms of extra film work and meeting time, he's trying to pick up the slack that way. It's a responsibility he's taking seriously, and he's doing everything he can to get ahead. He's a competitor and he's going to push himself. He's got that desire."


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The Film Don't Lie: Giants

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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A weekly look at what the Giants must fix:

The New York Giants are off this week before returning for a "Monday Night Football" game Nov. 3 against the Indianapolis Colts, and when they get back they're going to have to block better in the run game.

Running back Andre Williams rushed for a pitiful 1.0 yards per carry before contact in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys, according to ESPN Stats & Information. For the season, Williams is averaging 1.31 yards per carry before contact. Before he was injured, starting running back Rashad Jennings was averaging 2.53 yards per carry before contact, which is a monster number and clearly indicates the Giants were blocking the run much better in their first five games than they have in their last two.

Now, some of that may indicate Jennings' ability to identify and hit the holes better than the rookie Williams. But a disparity that significant is mainly on the linemen, who have been dominated physically by their opponents in Philadelphia and Dallas the past two weeks. The Giants are going to need to get back to showing the toughness they showed in their three-game winning streak and dictating the game at the line of scrimmage. They're determined to stick with the run all game even if it's not working early, but in order for that philosophy to work, they're going to need to run the ball more effectively. And it's on the offensive linemen to play better and make that happen.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions last season, as you may have read in this space and a few others. So far this season, he has thrown five. Four of those came in the first two games. He's thrown only one interception in his last five games and none in his last three.

This is not a coincidence.

"We're trying to protect the football and make good decisions, not force things, not make it harder than it has to be," Manning said Monday. "I'm very conscious of that, and forcing things and trying to make plays doesn't always help things out."

This is a major philosophical shift for Manning and the Giants' passing offense, which for the first 10 years of Manning's career relied on complex option routes, downfield throws and Manning's confidence in his ability to complete any throw in the world. That confidence has not waned, but what's come this season with the arrival of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the short-passing-based West Coast offense is an emphasis on knowing when to throw the ball away and live to fight another down.

"We have not had an interception in a couple of weeks, and that's been a very big part of our ability to control our game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's not being cautious. It's, 'If it's not there, what are you going to do? Get rid of it.'"

Manning is a guy who's hit pinpoint deep sideline throws in tight coverage to win Super Bowls and who has, on occasion, thrown a ball left-handed in an effort to salvage a play. But he insists he doesn't mind the change to a more responsible passing game plan.

"I don't like throwing it to the other team," Manning said. "I don't like having to force things or create a whole lot. I want things to be clean and simple and go through progressions and get the ball out in time."

It's simple. It's responsible. It's a foundation principle of the Giants' new offense. And from the standpoint of taking care of the ball, it's working.

Jason Pierre-Paul believes Giants can run the table after bye week

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The view from the outside is that the New York Giants are basically what their 3-4 record says they are, an inconsistent team that might not be good enough to be a contender.

Jason Pierre-Paul isn't buying it.

He looks at the Giants, and sees a team ready to go on a roll. He looks at the rest of the schedule and sees nothing but victories, despite a string of tough opponents in November.

"I think the bye [week] is good," the Giants defensive end said Monday. "What have we got, nine more games to play? Let's win all the nine games. I think we can do it.

"We've just got to believe."

Pierre-Paul
Pierre-Paul was one of the Giants' top performers in Sunday's 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, playing so well that coach Tom Coughlin singled him out in Monday's team meeting. Pierre-Paul was credited with six tackles, including two sacks and three total tackles for loss, but he looked even better than that on the game film.

"He was dominant," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "Just getting in the backfield and blowing things up, against the run, against the pass, you name it."

Pierre-Paul was on the field for all but two of the Giants' 62 defensive plays. His performance was even more impressive because he was lined up against Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who was so good the week before that he was the first lineman in 10 years to win the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week award.

"[Pierre-Paul] played hard, and I thought he played well, both run and pass," Coughlin said. "His energy level was high. He had outstanding endurance. If you were going to find someone that gave the kind of effort you were looking for and played well, he would certainly be at the top of the list."

The problem for the Giants was that not enough of them have played well, at least not from week to week. They lost their first two games, won their next three, and now have lost two straight to division opponents. The 27-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was ugly, but Sunday's loss to the Cowboys left a bad taste, too.

"We basically let them win," Pierre-Paul said. "We made mistakes, and it cost us big-time. [But] there's a lot more football in the second half to play. We'll be ready."

The Giants will come back after the bye with a Monday night game against the first-place Indianapolis Colts, followed by Seattle, San Francisco and a rematch with Dallas. But Pierre-Paul isn't concerned.

"I think we're fine," he said. "Tough loss [to the Cowboys], but as far as a team, we know what we can do. It's like we told everyone, do what you want this week, get away from football.

"When we come back, it's time to turn it on."

There are nine games left, and for Pierre-Paul, that can mean nine wins.

He thinks they can do it.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning didn't get to watch his older brother set the NFL's all-time record for touchdown passes Sunday night. Manning and the New York Giants were on a flight back home from Dallas when Peyton Manning whizzed past Brett Favre and into first place all time with 510 touchdown throws. But Eli knew what was going on and was excited to see the highlights when he landed.

"You never play for individual awards and records, but the touchdown record is pretty special," Eli Manning said Monday. "And I think it has a chance to stick around for a long time."

Eli said he sent Peyton a text, but as of 3:30 pm ET on Monday he still hadn't had a chance to speak to him. Peyton Manning and the Broncos are preparing for a quick-turnaround Thursday night game this week, and so the schedule is a bit off.

"I just sent him a text message, told him congratulations and that I'm proud of him," Eli said. "Obviously, I know he was proud to get the win with it."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Most of the New York Giants' players finished up meetings Monday and headed out for a long midseason break. The Giants are on bye next week and don't play again until Nov. 3. So guys who want to shut it down, get out of town for a few days, go fishing, whatever, they all go their separate ways.

Some will have to be around the facility, however, to get treatment for various injuries. And there are a few significant Giants injuries to monitor over the next couple of weeks.

Jennings
Schwartz
There is some hope that the return of running back Rashad Jennings from the knee injury that has cost him the past two games and of guard Geoff Schwartz from the toe injury that has so far delayed his Giants' debut will help get the running game going again. But to hear coach Tom Coughlin tell it, neither of those players is a sure thing to return in Week 9. Due to his short-term injured reserve status, Schwartz wasn't even eligible to practice until last week, and all he's done so far is some light running.

"Schwartz has got a long way to go," Coughlin said.

Coughlin also pointed out Jennings is trying to work his way back from a pretty serious knee injury -- an MCL sprain he suffered in the Week 5 victory over Atlanta. Jennings said his goal is to get back in time for the Week 9 "Monday Night Football" game.

"That's what we're trying to get to," Jennings said. "We've got the bye week and we've got some down time, so I'm just working. Preparing my body so that when it heals I can pick up where I left off."

Jennings said he would do more running this week and then "eventually get into the cuts." Schwartz said the goal for him was to practice on the field with the team next week when they return from the bye week.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants are banged up as well. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left Sunday's game in Dallas in the first half with a calf strain. An MRI on Monday confirmed the strain and nothing more, but Jenkins was still on crutches and in a walking boot Monday and said it was "probably going to be at least a couple weeks" before he could play again.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason re-aggravated the toe injury that cost him all of training camp and three games earlier this season, and Coughlin said Beason likely would go back to see the same foot specialist he's seen a few times this year. It's possible the Giants will end up having to shut Beason down due to this injury, but Coughlin said that's not in the plans at this point.

And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plans to continue to play through the leg and back injuries that have been limiting him. "It's going to be a continuous kind of thing here," Coughlin said, though he's hoping the two weeks of rest will help.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The drive that put away the Dallas Cowboys' 31-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday was notable not for the predictable way it ended (a 1-yard DeMarco Murray touchdown after a brilliant Dez Bryant sideline catch) but for the way it began.

The Giants were still in this very good game, trailing 21-14 with a little over 11 minutes left. They were deep in their own territory but moving the ball. On third-and-8 from his own 19-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning found tight end Larry Donnell over the middle for a reception that would have moved the chains and kept the drive alive ... but Donnell fumbled the ball.

Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant collected the ball at the Giants' 27-yard line and Dallas' extremely efficient offense was in business -- apparently assured of nothing less than a field goal from their outstanding kicker. A touchdown would put the game more or less out of reach.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who would not throw a single incomplete pass in the second half of this game, found Murray for a 4-yard gain on first down. Murray, the NFL's rushing leader, was stuffed in the backfield by Giants linebacker Jameel McClain for a 2-yard loss on second down, setting up a third-and-8 from the Giants' 25.

But converting third downs is something the Cowboys do quite well. They would convert nine of 14 in this game and lead the league in third-down conversion percentage for the year. Bryant lined up wide left. Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara, who'd drawn the assignment of covering the Cowboys' best receiver due to the injury to fellow corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, tried to jam Bryant at the line -- an idea Amukamara himself later described as "a dumb move by me." Bryant got by him just enough, and made a dazzlingly athletic catch inside the 5-yard line.

Bryant reached for the end-zone pylon and the officials initially ruled the play a touchdown. A replay review showed that it was not, but Murray took care of things on the next play, plunging in from a yard out to extend the Dallas lead to 28-14 with 9:17 left in the game.

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