In Week 1, the New York Giants didn’t exactly put up huge numbers on offense in the passing game but they see potential for a unit that can get things going in the air.
The Giants passed the ball just 28 times for 207 yards in the win at the Dallas Cowboys. That is a significant drop-off from last year when the Giants were averaging over 38 passing attempts a game, a career-high for quarterback Eli Manning. Sunday’s win didn’t call for that formula — although Manning did complete 67.9 percent of his passes — but with the high-scoring New Orleans Saints in town on Sunday, the Giants likely will pass a lot more.
Which has Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. excited for what the offense might look like moving forward. Especially since he won’t face as many double-teams or a secondary shifting their coverage in his direction as he did last season. Sunday’s win proved that rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard has potential in the slot and that the oft-injured Victor Cruz is back…for one game, at least.
“Like I said in preseason, we didn’t look great, so to say. You come out the first game and the offenses were productive. We score in the red zone and we do things that we wouldn’t have done last year. It just goes with the practice,” Beckham said on Wednesday following practice. “The time and stuff that we put in. It’s all going to come together at some point. Like I was saying back at preseason, I wasn’t so much worried when we were struggling on the offense. Things take time to mold and gel; looking towards the season, it’s going to be a tough time for defenses to cover -- not only cover to stop the run game. Once you get the run game and you’re passing the ball efficiently it is going to be pretty tough.”
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Shepard, who had three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, looked overall sharp and crisp. His budding emergence coupled with good returns from tight ends Larry Donnell and Will Tye as well as the stable of running backs has the Giants passing offense, already among the best in the league in 2015, certainly pointed up.
“You never know, everybody is gone be open [once in awhile] so Eli has a lot of options to go with,” Shepard said. “It frees up the backs. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
For Beckham especially, who was still a dominant target last year despite being the only true, viable option at wide receiver last season for the Giants, it is good news. He’ll face far less attention than a year ago which should, theoretically, see his production go up.
Less attention from a defense also having to focus on Shepard and Cruz means more room for Beckham to be Beckham.
“You’re not going to be able to do the doubling or the over-the-tops because then you’re susceptible to one on ones,” Beckham said.
“Those are guys that I would take 9.99999 times out of 10. There may be something that happens, timing may be off and we may not get it right but they’re going to win on man coverage. I’m going to try my best to win on-man [coverage]. It’s just about being efficient. Being all on the same page.”