To huddle or not to huddle, that is the question.
The Eagles already have answered it emphatically with their breakneck offensive philosophy that tries to hyperventilate defenses as much as outplay them. But for the 0-4 Giants, the issue remains a little less definitive.
They are a struggling offense with a tattered line, and the only drive in which they have looked comfortable in the last two games occurred at the end of last week's first half. They went to a hurry-up, marched 54 yards in 10 plays -- the most plays they've had in a single possession this season -- and, well, missed a 44-yard field- goal attempt.
But the point is that they moved the ball. They had three first downs. They looked in control.
"I think that's when our best offense really kicks in, when we do that two-minute phase, no huddle," receiver Rueben Randle said. "Going out there and making plays, Eli [Manning] calling the plays he wants and getting us in situations to make plays. I think that's pretty much when we're at our best. So far this season, that's what it's shown."
So why not use it more often?
"Our philosophy here offensively, our head coach would like us to be balanced and do everything we can to achieve that and to take some time off the clock to help our defense to do all of those things," said offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who is quick to point out that the fast-paced play-calling doesn't always work. "We were great at the end of the first half, but in the second half we did it. As soon as we got stuffed, or stopped on the first drive, we went to it."
Now, though, may be the time for desperate measures. The Giants have to hurry up and win a game, hurry up and get back in the division race, hurry up and figure something out. They might as well be hurrying up on the field.
The coach who brought the original no-huddle system to the NFL decades before the Eagles' Chip Kelly thinks it would be a good idea for the Giants to try to match the pace of the Eagles on Sunday.
"Any offense can do it," said Sam Wyche, who pioneered the fast-paced offense in the 1980s with the Bengals and these days is teaching it at Pickens High School in South Carolina, where he is a volunteer assistant coach. "If a high school team can do that, I think a pro team can put that in, having all day long without having to go to biology class or meet their girlfriend in the hall."
The Giants actually have been practicing the up-tempo since the summer, although with a different purpose. To prepare the defense for the Eagles and Broncos and others who have upped the antsy, Manning and company have been using the no-huddle since training camp. They call it "mach," as in the speed of sound.
"We've been mimicking the tempo," Coughlin said. "We've been practicing what we will see in the game, on the clock, the whole deal."
So why not use it? Particularly when nothing else seems to be working?
Coughlin says trying to find the right plays to call is like throwing a dart at a board. Perhaps this can be a bull's-eye.
"It is something that we talk about using a little bit more, a little bit less accordingly," Coughlin said.
Wyche said a team doesn't have to use it all the time the way the Eagles do for it to be effective. In fact, an offense doesn't even have to sustain it for an entire drive.
"Just every now and then you're right back at the line of scrimmage," he said. "They think you're going back in the huddle and suddenly you're not. It puts big pressure on the defensive coordinator to make the call. The defense better stay alert or they'll get surprised again . . . They don't know when it's coming, but when it's coming, it's coming fast. It's still effective. You can use it four or five times in a half and you probably get as much pressure on the defense as using it every snap."
More importantly, it excited the players. The Giants have said they are in search of a spark. Perhaps that doesn't have to come in the form of a play but in the play-calling.
"Everyone likes to run those," Randle said of the two-minute drills, comparing it to running a fast break in basketball. "Hopefully, we can integrate that a little bit more. We need to get the offense going a little bit to that point."
Wyche said it doesn't have to be an overarching policy, merely an element of strategy, like sending receivers in motion or using two tight ends.
"It's another little edge," he said. "That's all you're looking for in this game, especially at the pro level. A little edge."
That's exactly what the Giants need. And they need it in a hurry.