How The Giants Can Fix Their Red-Zone Scoring Struggles
The Giants have had no problem scoring points in the last few seasons. In fact, they've finished in the Top 10 in the league in points per game for the last five seasons now. When it comes down to it, they know how to put points on the board, and the offense has shown that it can keep up with just about anyone in the league.
However, those scores haven't usually come as easy when the team gets down inside the red zone (or the "green zone" as Tom Coughlin often calls it). They've had some success with scoring outside of the red zone, and thanks to the breakaway abilities of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, they've also had their fair share of long touchdown plays.
But when it comes down to it, the red-zone offense has left a lot to be desired.
Of course, there are much bigger things for Giants fans to worry about this season, like the injuries the team has suffered so far this preseason and the lack of depth in the secondary and at the linebacker position, just to name a few. But the red-zone struggles tend to stand out because they're scoring opportunities that are often squandered, and nobody forgets missed scoring opportunities.
The Giants finished 13th in the league last season in red-zone scoring percentage, which isn't terrible. Being in the top half of the league in any statistic is perfectly alright, and the team's preseason ineptitude inside the opponent's 20-yard-line can be chalked up to nothing more than the team trying to iron out a few early kinks.
However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the offensive play-calling in the red zone has been unimaginative in recent years. Although we're a few years removed now from the nightmare of handing the ball to Brandon Jacobs three consecutive times from the one-yard-line and watching him lose four yards, there still seems to be a certain sense of stagnancy whenever the offense gets down around the opponent's goal line.
Most good defenses already know where the ball is going once the Giants get closer to the end zone, and they have reacted as such by doubling up on Cruz and Nicks. Those fade patterns to the back corner of the end zone don't work as well as they used to, although it certainly helped Manning immensely having Plaxico Burress's lanky 6-6 frame at his disposal to reach over just about any defensive back on those particular routes.
As for running the football in goal-to-go situations, we've yet to really see David Wilson's full potential in that scenario, but his elusiveness and speed may suggest that he'll have some success being able to help the Giants score, as well as Andre Brown, who led the team with eight rushing touchdowns last season — almost all of which came from inside the 10-yard-line.
One thing most fans would like to see is for Manning to utilize the tight ends more in red-zone situations as he did earlier in his career. The tight end position has been one of Manning's favorite targets since day one. In goal-line situations, he always seemed to look for Shockey, Boss or whichever tight end happened to be lining up at the time. With the addition of Brandon Myers, Manning now has a new tight end to develop a rapport with, and it would be beneficial to the offense to see Myers targeted more as the team gets closer to the goal line.