Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
So maybe that new offense really won't be so new after all.
Maybe all this talk about the Giants going to a West Coast system with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo won't amount to a fundamentally transformed approach as we thought. After all, if you watched Friday night's game against the Jets, especially that two-minute drill near the end of the first half, the new-look offense had a decidedly old-look feel to it.
The out routes to Victor Cruz. The deep drop from Eli Manning on his TD pass to Rueben Randle. The play-action heave to Randle on the first series.
If you thought that looked more like the offense Manning used over his previous 10 years, mostly under offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, it did. And the way Manning and coach Tom Coughlin sounded Monday, you can expect to see more of Gilbride's old system folded into McAdoo's new one.
"When you look at it and say, 'Gee, I've seen that play before,' that's basically where you are," Coughlin said. "There's a lot of detail involved, where you're not going to know what [the play] is about, but much of what you see could be easily attributed to . That's to be expected."
It makes complete sense, actually. Manning is much more suited to a pure drop-back style that employs a lot of play-action passes and deeper drops, so having him operate more in concert with a pure West Coast system feels more like shoving a square peg into a round hole. Manning's skill set just doesn't match up with a true West Coast passer.
So, rather than try and force-feed three- and five-step drops on Manning, McAdoo appears to be shifting his thinking toward allowing his quarterback to continue relying on some of the plays that had become his calling card. It is very much a work in progress, and there will likely be more tinkering. But some good old-fashioned logic appears to be prevailing: If some parts of the offense aren't broken, then they don't need fixing.
During their brief time together, Manning and McAdoo have an evolving relationship, with both men getting to know each other's preferences in terms of game-planning and the execution of given plays. Manning will tell McAdoo what plays he likes to run in certain situations, while McAdoo will offer up detailed explanations of his thinking in other situations.
There don't appear to be any outward strains between the two, and judging from McAdoo's willingness to call plays that Manning prefers, Manning's input is certainly having an impact.
"We talk a lot about what plays I like in the two-minute [offense] , what plays I like on third downs, so [McAdoo] works with me on that," Manning said. "There's always plays in every offense that everybody has, that this is one of the plays you run. It's probably in a lot of people's offenses. Those are some of the things we like and you're always going to have routes that guys run well."
Take Cruz, for example. Manning and his favorite receiver have built a rapport over the last four years, so it makes sense that they run some of the same plays that have worked so well. An out route to the left for 16 yards on the two-minute drive on Friday night was one example. A similar route for 18 yards later in the drive was another.
"That are routes that Victor's run a bunch over the years that you're going to try to put him in those positions to run those routes that he can win," Manning said. "That's part of just putting guys in positions to do what they do well."
Same with Manning, who looks as if his new coordinator is flexible enough to carry over some of the plays that worked for him in the past. Now the trick is to use those plays wisely, combine them with McAdoo's West Coast concepts and avoid the mistakes Manning committed last year. The mistakes that brought McAdoo here in the first place.