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Giants hope to open up downfield passing game against Falcons

New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle is

New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle is stopped by New York Jets defensive back Darrelle Revis in the first half of their NFL preseason game in East Rutherford, N.J., Aug. 29, 2015. Credit: Ray Stubblebine

Last Sunday's game came down to late, short plays from inside the 4-yard line for the offense, but the bigger, more long-term issue may have been the lack of big-gain passing plays in the Giants' game plan. That's why Tom Coughlin and the players want to stretch the field a little bit more beginning this week against the Falcons.

"We definitely need to be more aggressive down the field," Rueben Randle said.

The Giants had just one passing play of 20 or more yards in the game, and that was the last snap that included desperation laterals and went 22 yards. That was Eli Manning's shortest longest pass since last year's opener at Detroit when he hit a 21-yard ceiling. If not for that last play against the Cowboys, it would have been worse. Manning's longest completion before that was a 16-yarder. You'd have to go back to late 2008 -- when Manning faced the Eagles without Plaxico Burress for the first time -- to find a game in which he didn't complete a pass of at least 20 yards.

"I would like to see the ball down the field," Coughlin said. "I don't want the ball turned over, but I would like to see the ball down the field, yes."

Against the Cowboys, that was difficult because of their defensive schemes. They played Cover-2 and seemed intent on not allowing the Giants receivers to get behind them.

"They were dropping everybody deep," Randle said. "Their linebackers were 15-20 yards deep. So it was hard to get those middle-of-the-field routes that are usually open in the Cover-2."

Given the arsenal of weapons in the Giants' passing game, there's a good chance other teams will follow that strategy. Odell Beckham Jr. said the key to beating it is not being aggressive, it's being patient.

"You take what they give you and things will open up," he said. "It's something that I've had to deal with in the past in my college career. Things aren't all going to be there right away, you just have to wait for those moments of when your plays and your opportunities are going to be there."

Against the Falcons, who employ a different defensive philosophy, they should be.

"They have confidence in their secondary and they play a lot of single-high the whole game," Randle said. "There should be more opportunities this week to spread the ball around the field and be a little bit more aggressive."

The Giants need that. Their offense should be built around it. They need Beckham Jr. to shine, Randle to extend the field.

"Obviously, there has to be some excellent decision-making on when to do things," Coughlin said. "But just by general nature, for me, it's always been, at some point, let's get it down the field."

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