*Eli Manning is fully supporting the run-dominant offensive scheme: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Eli Manning fully supports the Giants offense taking a different path, as long as it leads to victory.
Sunday night in Denver, the Giants reversed the strategy they've used for several years and ran the ball 32 times against only 19 passes. It was a radical departure for Manning, who averaged 40 passes in the first five games (and 37.3 in the 2016 regular season). But the ground-heavy attack, which produced 148 yards, enabled the Giants to earn their first victory of the season, 23-10.
"A lot less passing, and that's just the circumstances of what we were in last week," Manning said today. "Had some new receivers, different guys playing some of their first games and first games in a while. So you had to be careful. It wouldn't be a game we're going to throw it 40 times. We still have to throw it, we have to hit some shots, we have to make some plays, but you've just got to be smart about it."
The Giants were. Manning completed only 11 passes, including two on third downs that kept scoring drives alive and another that became a five-yard touchdown to tight end Evan Engram. But that's still less than half of the 27 completions he averaged in the first five weeks.
"I don't know if it's difficult," Manning said when asked about making an adjustment in the "formula" the team used earlier in the season. "I think you've just got to know how to use some different personnel, using some different formations, just a commitment to the run. And we've got to throw the ball better, we've got to do some other things. But, hey, we've got to run the ball, we've got to be physical up front, try to play field positon, play ball control, those type of things. Still have got to find completions, have to get into good third down situations, convert on those a little bit better. But we've still got to execute and that's what it comes down to."
Of course, Manning will hand it off on every play if that helps the Giants win.
"Eli wants to win as bad as anybody in that locker room and he's thrown the ball plenty in this league," coach Ben McAdoo said. "But wins are tough to come by, and we have to do what's best for the team and we will."
The Giants this week host the Seattle Seahawks, who are ranked 26th in the NFL in run defense, but ninth vs. the pass. But the circumstances are a bit different than they were when they prepared to play the Broncos. The Giants were getting ready to play their first game without Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Sterling Shepard was a sidelined with an ankle injury. They had a young, untested group of receivers that included Roger Lewis, Jr., Tavarres King and Travis Rudolph.
Those three have now played a game together. Shepard practiced today, and is hopeful of playing against the Seahawks, who will be prepared for the Giants to try to run on them.
And Manning said the inexperienced receivers seemed to move a little quicker at practice today.
"Just understanding the rhythm of things and concepts and just playing that much faster, being on the same page," Manning said. "We've still got some work to do, just getting in rhythm and practice will help. But I think every rep, even watching the game film, how they're running certain routes, will help us get that much better."
It's very possible the Giants are going to need more from their passing attack and those receivers if they are to start winning consistently.
"I think we are," Manning said. "I think it was just a case of how the game was going – had a little lead in the fourth quarter, so I don't know if we threw a pass in the fourth quarter (they did not). So that's the way the game worked out. Defense was playing well, so we didn't have to throw it much there at the very end.
"But I thought the first half, we were pretty efficient when we did throw the ball. Got some completions, some big plays in the passing game. If we can play that way and hit some big plays in the passing game - when we do throw, be effective with it."
That's true whether they throw it five or 50 times in a game.
A look at the playmakers of the Giants' upcoming opponent