Like a duck moving across the pond, what you will see from the Giants' new-look offense after the snap is only part of the picture. Below the surface is a lot of pre-snap commotion.
"Moving parts all day long," Sterling Shepard said on a receiver-themed episode of the Giants Huddle podcast. "It kind of gets overwhelming whenever you look at the motion list too. They have it broken down on our [tablets], so when you look at the motion list, it's so many different motions that you can do. It'll be good getting a lot of our playmakers moving around. It's going to be tough on defenses."
As evidenced by the success of Buffalo and Kansas City, the juggernaut offenses from which coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka hailed, the trademark is more than just window dressing. They are designed to get a jump on the defense, which the Bills and Chiefs executed to perfection.
"It's good because you get a man-zone read," Shepard said. "[That's] the number one thing, and this offense is all about playing fast, so anything that you can catch an inch on with what the defense is about to do is good. That's what the motions are really for, getting those man-zone reads."
That way, they get in motion when it really counts – after the snap and with the ball in their hands.
"It just allows you to get a lot more one-on-ones and get a lot of space," rookie Wan'Dale Robinson said on the podcast. "Create mismatches for the defense. They have to communicate and things like that. Whenever you're moving and playing fast, defenses can't communicate, and you get a lot of big plays out of that."
The new regime took over an offense that finished last in plays of 20-plus yards in 2021 and installed a fresh playbook during the spring before the Giants went on their summer break. And it wasn't a beach read.
"Oh yeah," Shepard said of its thickness. "And it's a lot of one-words, so you have to know the formation and you have to know the play concept all in one word. That's where it gets pretty tough. Usually, you have a full play concept and they'll read everything out to you. But this is just one word, and you have to remember it."
Shepard added, "It has potential for a lot of big plays, and it has some fancy plays in there as well. I think the fans will love it. We've just to keep doing our part and putting in work."
Shepard, who is eighth in franchise history in career receptions (and less than 50 from breaking into the top three behind only Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber), got a coach's view of the new offense during OTAs and minicamp. He tore his Achilles tendon against Dallas last December and spent the spring in a red non-contact shirt as he continued his rehab.
"I'm feeling great," said Shepard, who isn't putting a timetable on his return to the lineup. "I've been working my tail off with the training staff, doing everything that they ask of me and doing a little extra on my own as well.
"It gets overwhelming at times. You're doing the same thing over and over again. You can get lost in it or you could just fall in love with the process, and that's just what I've been trying to do. Just fall in love with it and get that strength back."
When it happened, Shepard reached out to his friend and then-Jets defensive back Marcus Maye, who suffered the same injury a month before him.
"You can't walk around, so you're upset about that," Shepard recalled. "You can't get fresh. You've got to put on one boot and then a shoe. Then picking up marbles with my toes was terrible … but we're well past that."
Shepard also spoke to another local pro athlete.
"I also talked to Kevin Durant right when I did it on surgeons and which way to go with that," Shepard said of the Brooklyn Nets star, who is the poster child of Achilles comebacks. "I've just been watching a lot of videos of guys that came back from it, and it seems like everybody has made a 100 percent recovery, so that's what I'm hoping for.
Kadarius Toney, last year's first-round draft choice, had a similar view of practice this off-season. He was also in a red shirt alongside Shepard as he comes back from an injury-plagued rookie season.
Toney didn't want to tip the Giants' hand, but he said he will be used in a variety of ways when he gets back on the field.
"[The offense is] kind of like Florida in the way you have leeway in route-running and stuff like that," the former Gator said. "You're able to just win. You don't have to run the pen-and-paper version of your route every time. A lot of offensive coaches have the pen-and-paper mentality like you have to run it exactly like that every time. But Dabes [Daboll] gives us a lot of freedom, a lot of leeway to win. That's the object of playing football – to win. He just gives that option."
It's always good to have options.
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View the best photos from mandatory minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.