Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Giants: The offense is too complex

You've been hearing me whining for months on this blog that a big reason for the offense's many turnovers and Eli's many INTs is the complexity of the passing routes. There are too many reads, adjustments, passing rules and route running variations made at the line of scrimmage pre-snap and even after the play starts if the defense covers up what they are doing and the pre-snap read is incorrect. This leads to indecision on the route to be run by the WR and leads the QB to hold on to the ball a beat longer to see what the WR will in fact do. That is why - when things go well and the WR runs the expected route, Eli's talents take over and he makes great throws completing 63% of his passes. But when there is hesitation and indecision, the QB waits to see where the WR will go and throws the ball flat footed with his arm only not stepping into the throw, which makes the ball sail or come off inaccurately. Think about it - it is completely illogical for a QB to throw a high percentage of completions AND have a lot of INTs; these stats should be directly correlated. If you are an inaccurate passer, toss the ball over the lot and throw a lot of INTs, your inaccurate passes should also lead to a bad completion percentage. Conversely, if you have a high percentage of  completions because you are a good passer, you should have relatively lower INTs. There are certainly statistical anomalies that can affect this logic and other factors that could influence this, but as a general principle it is true.

Aside from the high INT rate, I assert that there is another proof for the overly-complex passing offense and that is the length of time it takes for a new WR to get inducted into the offense. There are lots of examples - it took Barden a year and a half before he could get on the field. Manningham was idle his first year. Rookie Calhoun made the team this year and was a ST player, but could not be promoted to the offensive system when there were injuries, the Giants had to re-sign Derek hagan who had previously been in the offense for a year and was familiar with it. Clayton joined the team as an emergency fill in and while he may not be a star, he was a former first round draft choice with a  resume of decent  performance at the NFL level and also was completely unproductive in this offense.

By contrast, the Chargers had a ton of injuries at the WR and TE position and kept rolling new guys in and out of their offense. Each one was productive almost immediately and Rivers and the Chargers offense hardly missed a beat. This is because Norv Turner's offense is elegant in its simplicity and easy to learn. This simple design doesn't cost them anything in efficiency or productivity, because the Chargers offense was near the top all year long.

After all these hints and clues to my assertion, I heard the coup de gras, the ultimate word this morning. While in my car, listening to morning sports talk radio, Boomer Esiaison said the exact same thing when explaining Gilbride's offense and Manning's high INT rate. He said that if Eli were playing in a better designed offense, where both the WR and the QB could be more decisive about the routes, and aware of what the other was going to do, Eli would be at the top of the league. He spoke specifically about the Colts, Patriots and the Chargers offense as examples of QB friendly passing schemes.

I do computer work and design systems. When you're confronted with a problem, the hardest thing to do is to design a simple, elegant solution that solves all your needs. Somewhat paradoxically, it's easier to build a complex system that staisifies every requriement, by piling one Rube Goldberg trap onto another, but hard to have the vision to design something simple. Simplicity is elegance.

Gilbride is apparently being considered for HC of the UCONN Huskies football team. All you UCONN alum - send a strong letter of recommendation to your alma mater to go and hire Gilbride as the next HC of your football team. Maybe then we can get a smart, open minded OC to redesign the passing offense. Josh McDaniels is unlikely to get a HC offer after the mess he made as HC in Denver. We'll take him.


Ira said...

Any thoughts on today's NY Post article suggesting the Giants would sign Burress? Does this hurt/help the WR growth? I think that you cannot have enough WR and Barden has shown us nothing, why not give him a shot? (was that pun too soon?)


wolfman said...

I get it... "shot". Not bad. They gave Michael Vick a chance, even though Goodell watched him carefully and kept him on a short leash. I think Burress crime was illegal but not immoral. By contrast, Vick's crime was sustained over a long period of time, was incredibly cruel and his apology was disingenuous, based only on a desire to play again. Burress, on the other hand seems rough, but his bark is worse than his bite.

I think the Giants need a speed WR, and I am not sure that Burress is the guy.