According to Pro Football Focus, Eli Manning threw for a total of 99 yards on screen passes in 2013. Ninety-nine yards. Not even the length of a football field in 16 games (well, 15 and a half since he left the finale with an ankle injury). It was one of the more frustrating aspects of the offense, that inability to make a relatively simple play function.
Ben McAdoo is going to change that. Or so he says. The Packers used the screen a lot and with success during his tenure in Green Bay, and the new Giants offensive coordinator said that it will become an important part of the Giants’ new scheme.
“We’re definitely going to spend time in the screen game,” McAdoo said on a conference call on Thursday, his first encounter with the media since being named the team’s top offensive coach. “It’s something that will be a focal point in each install, we’ll have different plays and different types of screens whether they are sidewalk screens or hash screens or so forth and so on just like everybody else in the league. At the end of the day it comes down to fundamentals and guys getting enough repetitions to where they are productive.”
I don’t know what a sidewalk screen is, but I dig the jargon!
As far as having a running back who is capable of playing in that kind of offense – and who presumably will have to know the difference between sidewalks and hashes and so on – McAdoo said it’s most important for a running back to have one particular quality. And that, it turns out, is the same one the previous regime prized above all.
“First and foremost the runner needs to be able to protect the quarterback,” he said. “He also needs to be able to run with the ball in his hands and do that well. You’d like to have a complete back. It’s obviously ideal to have a guy who is functional out of the backfield catching the football, but at the end of the day I think you have to protect the quarterback or you’re going to have a hard time getting on the field.”