So far through free agency and the NFL draft, the New York Giants have given a collective shrug to upgrading their offensive line.
There might be a method to their madness, however, even if it infuriates their fanbase.
While the Giants did add D.J. Fluker via free agency this offseason, a player who can bump inside to guard or can play at right tackle, the unit remains largely intact from last season. That isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The offensive line was the weak point of the team, one of the least regarded offensive lines in the entire league. But if one statistic is any indication, then it may not matter.
The number of passes thrown by quarterback Eli Manning in under 2.5 seconds (yes, this is an actual stat tracked by Pro Football Focus), has been on the rise in recent years. Starting in 2014, the Giants have been getting the ball out of Manning’s hands progressively faster, a rise that coincides with the naming of Ben McAdoo as the offensive coordinator.
When McAdoo replaced Tom Coughlin as head coach last year, that number went down again:
Eli Manning has gotten the ball out of his hand much quicker since the arrival of Ben McAdoo. pic.twitter.com/PArF6QxuH2— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 16, 2017
The number last year, 63.9 percent of ‘dropbacks with a pass attempt in 2.5 seconds or less’ is well above the NFL average of the last five years at 53.7 percent.
Some of this may be by design to utilize playmakers such as wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard in the open field before safeties can read the route. Get the stars the ball when they are in 1-on-1 coverage and good things can happen is rather sound logic, after all.
Some of it might stem from necessity though as Manning very often was throwing under duress last year. The line was terrible, in particular in their NFC Wild Card loss.
But the plan, well, it may be working. Manning again threw for over 4,000 yards last year, a three-year run of such seasons. He also has 91 touchdowns and 44 interceptions combined during those three seasons, numbers that certainly are among the best in the NFL.
There’s also the fact that Manning was sacked 21 times last year, the lowest number since he was sacked 19 times in 2012.