PHILADELPHIA - Deep thoughts? Not these Giants.
Through five games entering Sunday night's huge NFC East clash with the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the new Giants offense had spent most of its time focused on short, choppy steps, particularly in the passing game. Not only had they completed only 13 passes for 20 or more yards, they had attempted an astoundingly low number of deep tosses.
Only two Eli Manning completions had gone more than 20 yards in the air (he was 2-for-13 on such attempts), and more than half of his 122 connections (63 to be exact) had traveled between 1 and 10 yards before being caught. An amazing 28 had been thrown behind the line of scrimmage on either screens or checkdowns.
Tom Coughlin may be itching to broaden the scope of the offense -- "We need to make some big plays ourselves," he said when asked about the ones his defense has been surrendering -- but coordinator Ben McAdoo seems content with the slow and steady approach.
The thing McAdoo liked best about the Giants' performance against the Falcons last week was that they took what was given to them and did not try to focus on any one aspect or player.
"We were very methodical last week," he said. "We did a nice job of not forcing the football to certain guys. We trusted everyone on the field and the ball went where it was supposed to go. That is very big and important and it shows that we can play with discipline and detail. If we have to go the long haul and have long drives and run the ball and take completions and not penalize ourselves, then we are capable of doing that."
They were averaging 35 points in their previous three games, so it's not that there was anything wrong with the offense. Just something that seemed to be missing.
But Victor Cruz had a strong history of success against the Eagles. In six career games against them heading into Sunday night, he had caught 34 passes for 533 yards and five touchdowns.
"Eli Manning and I have been on the same page against this team," Cruz said. "We've been in a little bit of a groove [against them], and I think that's been a difference-maker."
Rookie Odell Beckham Jr., a deep threat who was sidelined for the first month of the season, also was available.
"If he is productive with his one-on-one matchups and wins and does a nice job being explosive there, executing crisply and playing with great effort, then that is certainly something that could come up," McAdoo said of Beckham getting more deep passes. "We believe big plays are a product of execution, doing it crisply and extra effort. If we do a better job in those areas, big plays will come."
Until then, McAdoo seems content with taking things slowly and surely up and down the field. Just like the previous Sunday against the Falcons.
"It was progress," he said.
Notes & quotes: G Geoff Schwartz was brought to the Giants as a free-agent savior for the offensive line during the offseason. Now that he is eligible to get back on the field with the team, there doesn't seem to be much to save. Schwartz, who at the start of the season was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return (dislocated toe), is eligible to practice with the team beginning Monday and can play in games beginning Nov. 3 against the Colts. It's not so much when that is the question but where. With the Giants loving the continuity of their current offensive line, there might not be a place to put Schwartz when he finally can suit up. "Let's just get him back," Coughlin said of Schwartz, who ran on the side with trainers last week. McAdoo said he does not have a specific plan for Schwartz's return but said he likes the way the active unit has performed. "The more they play together, the better they get," he said of his current starting five. "Schwartz has been around and he has been a part of that group. I'm sure he is chomping at the bit to get out there." . . . Giants LB Jon Beason (foot, toe) was active for the first time since Week 2 . . . DE Robert Ayers Jr., who missed Friday's practice with neck spasms and was listed as questionable, played for the Giants.