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Ben McAdoo wants Giants offense to shift out of reverse

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo during

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo during pregame of the New York Giants at New York Jets on August 27, 2016. Credit: Lee S Weissman

When Ben McAdoo says the offense needs to “go forward,” he doesn’t mean in the sense of progressing to the next game and getting ready for the regular season. He means literally that they have to move forward. Like, instead of backward.

Because on Saturday against the Jets there was way too much wrong-direction football for anyone’s liking. Two of the four Giants running backs who handled the ball in the game finished with negative yardage. Five of the team’s 11 first-half handoffs went for zero yards or less. That doesn’t even include the time Eli Manning stumbled out of the pocket for a loss of 4 yards, the play he was sacked for a 10-yard loss, or the false start penalty against Bobby Hart.

“Offensively, obviously we need to go forward,” McAdoo said on Sunday. “We need to do a better job of going forward. Everything there is correctable . . . I feel very confident that we are going to get the offensive line going in the right direction.”

McAdoo said it’s not just the line that created the moonwalking offense. He put a good deal of blame on the tight ends as well, especially second-year player Will Tye.

“We expect Will to play better,” McAdoo said of the Stony Brook University product. “He’s still a young player, he’s still a player that’s going to develop. We have faith that he’ll do that, but he needs to play better.”

The Giants are a little short-handed at the positions that normally help with blocking. Their best blocking option, veteran Will Johnson, has missed two weeks with a burner in his neck and McAdoo said there is nothing new to report on his progress. Tight end Matt LaCosse has been sidelined with a knee injury and fullback Nikita Whitlock suffered a mid-foot sprain on Saturday. At one point undrafted rookie Ryan Malleck attempted to block Mo Wilkerson in Saturday’s game. It got ugly.

“We’re giving guys an opportunity to go out there and compete for the positions,” McAdoo said. “Larry [Donnell] has done a nice job for us, he made a nice play for us yesterday. We need to find some guys who can block better for us.”

That goes for just about everyone on a starting offense that has not scored a single point and managed just four first downs — no two of which have come in the same series — with Eli Manning under center this preseason.

“I think we can tighten up our assignments,” McAdoo said, “but it’s really the details and fundamentals, and we’ve got to work like heck to finish hard and finish with effort.”

More for Cruz?

Ben McAdoo said he didn’t want to talk about playing time for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Patriots, but it sounds as if he’d like Victor Cruz to play.

“It was good to see him out there,” McAdoo said. “He looked confident, looked comfortable, looked like he was excited, and I would like to get him more touches.”

Cruz had just one catch for 4 yards in the game Saturday, his first in nearly two full years. While he said he would like to play against the Patriots, Cruz declared himself prepared for the regular-season opener after Saturday’s performance.

“I think I can go out there September 11 and be OK,” he said.

Giant steps

Justin Pugh, who has missed the past two preseason games with a shoulder injury, is expected back in a limited capacity this week. McAdoo downplayed the role Pugh’s absence has played in the lackluster performances of the offensive line. “You can’t point any offensive line struggles to one person,” he said. “They all have to function the same and they have to function well together. You can’t just blame that on one individual” . . . FB Nikita Whitlock suffered a mid-foot sprain in the game and McAdoo said LB Jonathan Casillas is being evaluated for a rib injury after X-rays on Saturday were inconclusive . . . The Eagles cut former Giants WR Rueben Randle. Randle, 25, had signed a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason . . . TE Matt LaCosse will have surgery on Tuesday to correct a cartilage injury in his knee.

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