New York Giants' Red Zone Troubles Are Being Overblown

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The New York Giants have a list of concerns heading into the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, September 8.

For instance, has the defense, which gave up the second-most yards in the National Football League last year, made enough improvements in the offseason? And can David Wilson carry the load in the absence of Andre Brown, who was placed on short-term injured reserve on Wednesday (Sept. 4).

The list doesn't end there.

Preseason Problems

Another worry has been New York's red-zone offense, which only scored a pair of touchdowns (and six field goals) in eight trips inside the 20-yard line in the preseason. But preseason football can be misleading, since teams aren't extending their first-team offenses or running the same plays they normally would during the regular season. Furthermore, the Giants were missing key players, such as Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, for a large part of the exhibition schedule.

We may have seen a truer glimpse of Big Blue's offense against the New England Patriots in the final game of the preseason. Eli Manning led the first-team offense, minus Cruz, on a 10-play, 91-yard drive which resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass to Nicks. Granted, the Patriots weren't in regular-season mode, but the Giants made it look easy.

Code Red: Regular Season

On the touchdown drive against the Patriots, a 16-yard burst by Wilson spotted the ball at the Pats' 16-yard line before a pair of short runs by Brown and Wilson set up the TD pass to Nicks. That reads like a page right out of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's regular-season playbook.

I know what you're thinking; Gilbride is not creative enough. But before you toss him under the bus, remember that the Giants have ranked in the top 10 in points scored in each of the last five season. New York's big-play offense is designed to move down the field in chunks (see Cruz's 57-yard catch-and-run TD against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Wilson's 84-yard dash against the New York Jets in the preseason), not methodically march down the field like the old-school Giants.

Keep in mind, the Giants have experienced modest success in the red zone -- or the green zone, as coach Tom Coughlin calls it -- over the last few years. According to TeamRankings.com, Big Blue was ranked No. 13 in red-zone scoring in 2012, coming away with a touchdown 54.84 percent of the time they marched across the opponent's 20. Moreover, the Giants have placed in the top 15 in red-zone touchdown percentage each of the last three seasons.

The loss of Brown will hurt, since he scored a team-best eight TDs in 10 games last season, but the Giants have other weapons, including Nicks, Cruz and Wilson. And don't forget pass-catching tight end Brandon Myers. They'll find a way to score.

Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.

Sources

Pro-Football-Reference.com.

The Official Site of the National Football League.

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