COMMENTARY | Innovative offense and the New York Giants are two things that hardly seem to go together. Truth is, they really haven't -- at least not as long as the venerable and quite traditional Tom Coughlin has been the head coach.
The Giants have run virtually the same offensive system ever since Coughlin became head coach in 2004. A traditional power running attack reliant on a fullback and standard in-line blocking a tight ends. The running attack's purpose is to manage the clock and set up play-action and vertical passing opportunities in a passing attack built for the big play. The Giants have actually employed a risk-taking passing attack built for the quick strike, not built to look pretty all the time or be efficient.
Coughlin will be 68 next season, easily the league's oldest coach. No matter how much energy he has and how much longer he wants to stay on the sideline he is far closer to the end of his coaching career than to the beginning. You would hardly expect him, at this stage, to blow up his offense and try something completely new, completely foreign to him. Yet, that is what Coughlin is doing.
With the Giants' offense "broken" -- co-owner John Mara's word -- and quarterback Eli Manning coming off the worst season of his career (a career-high 27 interceptions, a full-season career-low 18 touchdown passes) Coughlin is starting over.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride retired (it's a good guess he would have been fired if he hadn't), setting in motion an amazing transformation of the Giants' offensive coaching staff.
Loyal long-time Coughlin assistants Mike Pope (tight ends) and Jerald Ingram (running backs) were fired. A young offensive staff filled with new ideas has emerged.
Ben McAdoo, quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, is now the offensive coordinator. He brings with him an efficient, West-Coast based offensive style. Danny Langsdorf is the new quarterbacks coach. Langsdorf has been the offensive coordinator at Oregon State since 2005. Craig Johnson is the new running backs coach. Interestingly, Coughlin did not know Langsdorf or Johnson before interviewing them.
"I think there is something to be said for taking some of the ideas that you see are most prevalent at the college level and bringing that to our game," Coughlin said. "And the combination is very interesting to me."
Coughlin hardly sounds like a man ready to ease into retirement. Instead, he sounds energized by the idea of creating something fresh and innovative.
"I like the makeup of our offensive staff," Coughlin said. "There are some obvious and very good offensive thoughts here. And then you bring in Ben McAdoo … I'm excited about that part of it as well. I think the combination of the fundamentals, the innovative ideas and concepts coming from the new coaches, combined with the coaches that we have here that are fundamentalists and very good coaches in their own right, I'm excited about this spring as we put together our identity as an offensive team again. First and foremost, it's going to be good for our players."
It should be an interesting, exciting time that will be good for Giants' fans as well. At the very least it will give the anti-Gilbride crowd something new to complain about. That, all by itself, is a good thing.
[NOTE: Quotes supplied by the Giants' PR staff unless otherwise noted.]
-- Ed Valentine is editor of Big Blue View, covering the New York Giants for SB Nation. He writes about the Giants and Yankees for Yahoo Contributor Network.
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