Practice Report: July 28, 2014

If Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf was trying to grab the attention of the reporters gathered around him who asked about the expectations for the passing game and Eli Manning’s completion percentage, well then mission accomplished.

“We’d love to be there at 70%,” he said. “It hasn’t been done very often. That’s the goal. But we want to raise his completion percentage for sure.”

Call me crazy, but I think it can be done with Manning, who has a career completion percentage of 58.5%, in this offense.

First a little background. Manning has actually seen his completion percentage drop in the last three seasons. After posting a career high 62.9 in 2010, his ensuing completion percentages have gone from 61% in 20111, to 59.9% in 2012 to 57.5 last year.

So why do I think expecting Manning to complete 70% of his passes isn’t a stretch?

I popped on over to Pro Football Focus, who does a wonderful job with keeping those hard-to-find stats, as I wanted to see about the incomplete passes that weren’t necessarily Manning’s fault. (You’ll need a subscription to view PFF’s information.)

The first thing I looked at were the number of drops his receivers had each year.

In 2010, Manning was victimized by 42 drops; that number swelled to 46 in 2011 before dipping to 32 in 2012 and then 30 last year.

Certainly if more of those drops had been held , Manning’s completion percentage would have been higher.

The more important number that didn’t decrease between 2011 through 2013,was the pressures allowed by the offensive line.

According to PFF, Manning posted a very respectable 62.9% completion percentage when he was not under pressure versus a 48.0 completion percentage when he was.

If we go back to the last time Manning had a decent offensive line, which, for argument’s sake, we’ll say is the 2011 season, not only was he not under pressure as much—PFF has Manning as being under pressure on 268 of his 752 pass attempts (35.6%)—when he had time to throw the ball, he completed 65.3% of his pass attempts.

The bottom line is a faster-paced offense should go a long way toward helping everyone on the offense, starting with the offensive line, who no longer has to hold its blocks for lengthy periods of time.

However, if the guys up front aren’t doing their jobs, the coaches can install all the fancy footwork techniques, all the fancy plays and tricks there are. They won’t go far without the blocking, and that, in my opinion, is the real story of the summer.

 

INJURIES

If you were concerned about receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (hamstring) before, you won’t like this news. The rookie was not at today’s shortened practice. Head coach Tom Coughlin said that Beckham went to see the doctor for some tests to presumably determine the severity of the injury and if the current course of treatment needs to be adjusted.

Also not present on the practice field was tight end Xavier Grimble, who missed his second day of work with a hamstring strain.

 

QUOTABLES

“I think, right now, they’ve all got a shot at doing it. But again, they’re all very good in certain areas and right now not as efficient and not as good in other areas. In order to become that all-around tight end, they need to continue to develop.”

–Giants tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride

 

PRACTICE NOTES

As previously noted, this was a shortened practice held in full pads, so this list of observations is going to be short. After about 70 minutes in, head coach Tom Coughlin took his team inside the field house for their second extended stretch period of this camp.

–Fullback Henry Hynoski mixed it up who I think was linebacker Jameel McClain. (Update: I’m now told it was Jacquian Williams.) Defensive Johnathan Hankins had initially thought to be Hynoski’s sparring partner by most of us in the press room, but this video from NFL.com shows that Hankins was a spectator. It would also make more sense if Hynoski mixed it up with a linebacker, but again, it’s not conclusive evidence that McClain was the other party.  Whoever the defensive player was, he sent Hynoski’s helmet flying.

–Receiver Rueben Randle had some trouble finding the handle on a couple of passes in the unit drills, dropping one. He also barely got a hand on a deep pass.

–Want your daily Devon Kennard update? The youngster blew up a running play run by Rashad Jennings and then jumped up in excitement. The young man continues to make the plays and it’s going to be very interesting to see how they get him on the field once Jon Beason returns to action.

–Kicker Brandon McManus went three of four in the field goal department. I think the miss was from about 45 yards away. Regardless, he bounced back with his final attempt, which was about five yards deeper.

–I’m really not sure why David Wilson continues to take part in the kickoff rotation. I don’t think the plan is to use him in that role anymore, and if it’s not, why take reps away from Jerrel Jernigan and Quintin Demps, who appear to be the two leading contenders for the job, to compete for the job?

–The offensive highlight was a beautiful leaping reception by tight end Larry Donnell over the seam. Donnell had to slightly juggle that reception but did a nice job in reeling it in. Donnell, to me, has looked the best of the bunch at tight end. That doesn’t mean he’s made every play that’s there to be made, but he’s made quite a few that have turned heads.

I asked tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride about Donnell, who got some experience in those multiple roles asked of the tight ends, how much that experience in a different offense has helped the youngster in this new system.

“I think anytime you get experience playing in the course of a game and being in the limelight, so to speak, as far as the atmosphere, the intensity of it, going against a player with a different color jersey on, it’s great experience for you,” Gilbride said.

“So it does, it helps and there’s no doubt about it. But he is still a very young player in that regard as well. It’s not like he had a ton of reps through the course of the season last year so the development still needs to continue there as well for his poise, for his execution, in the course of the games.”

–Cornerback Zack Bowman, working against Rueben Randle, came up with a big interception of an Eli Manning pass. The ball looked like it was supposed to go to Randle’s outside shoulder, but instead, it fell just short of that target where Bowman, who had the inside track, came up with the pick.

–Even though there’s a log jam at running back, I hope that somehow Michael Cox makes this team. He hits the hole so quickly and just always seems to have a plan when he runs. He had one really nice run in which he burst through a crease and to his left for at least a 15-yard gain. Cox does a nice job of keeping both hands on the ball in traffic—I don’t think he’s dropped any balls when given a chance.

–We had another botched snap between center Weston Richburg and quarterback Ryan Nassib. I think it the second one so far this camp. Nassib actually tried to corral the high ball with one hand but it was to no avail.

–Charles Brown, working at left tackle—he’s continuing to rotate with Will Beatty—jumped offside. Meanwhile Eli Manning tried to complete a pass to who I believe was Ruben Randle, but the ball fell incomplete.

–I didn’t have the most ideal vantage point to watch this as I was stationed behind the defense for most of today’s practice, but something I do want to take a look at is the footwork of the quarterbacks. Eli Manning spoke a bit about the differences during today’s media hour.

“I think it’s more kind of the footwork-based on the route, whether you’re under center or in shotgun, just how it changes,” he said. “Some of that is a little different. There’s more shotgun footwork and mechanics, kind of listening to your feet. We talk a lot about that and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to take this type of drop out of the gun and if it’s not open on that first step you’ve got to listen to your feet, get through your progression so when you have to scramble…’ some of those things are different, just taught differently than what we’ve done in the past.

“I like it, I think it makes sense and you can rely on it but it’s not only remembering the play and protection but also remembering what type of, do I take a step with my right foot first or my left foot, those things that are now becoming second nature.”

The reason why I mention this is because I’m curious to see if the footwork ultimately tips off what the routes are and if it makes it easier to defend the passing game at some point.

–I know there’s some interest in what the plan is for snap distribution for the Hall of Fame game, but one thing I’ve wanted to know for a while now is whether Coughlin will give the starters a little extra work overall this preseason with it being a new offense and all.

“Not necessarily. Not right away. It will come to do that. They will get plenty of snaps,” he said.

 

THE FINAL WORD
The joke around the sideline is that Tom Coughlin, once renowned for his intense practices, has gone soft because he continues to give his team a mid-practice break and has twice now ended practice early for them to take part in extra stretching and cool-down activities.

Considering that there are only two lingering injuries after six practices, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Xavier Grimble, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that after the year this team had health wise in 2013.

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