INDIANAPOLIS — There are those on the outside who look and see how the Giants regressed on offense in 2016 and pin most of the blame on the offensive line.
Ben McAdoo says that is lazy research, and is not hesitant to assign a share of the culpability to Eli Manning, the franchise quarterback.
“I think that’s an easy one-liner you can throw out there and think you have all the answers,’’ McAdoo said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, referring to blaming the offensive line. “I don’t necessarily agree with that.’’
Well, then, McAdoo certainly will not agree with the assessment Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman offered after the Giants, with a paltry 19.4 points a game, finished 26th in the league in scoring in 2016.
“They’ve got to be better up front,’’ Aikman, a FOX analyst, told The Post after the season. “I mean, the teams that are winning in this league, it starts in the trenches, and you can’t have a quarterback under pressure as much as Eli was. To say well, whatever they finished up in terms of sacks given up, that’s very misleading.
“A large part of that is Eli is reluctant to take sacks, so he just gets rid of the ball. I watched them a lot, he constantly had people in his lap [when] trying to throw the football. It’s hard to play that way. So they got to address that.’
Eli ManningPaul J. Bereswill
As the Giants seek to build on a resurgent 11-5 season, they hit free agency next week looking for upgrades, with their offense clearly in need of more repair than a defense that allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL in 2016. McAdoo and his staff this week will be checking out the top prospects in the NFL draft. Perhaps the Giants will make aggressive moves to add talent to their offensive line. Perhaps they will merely tinker.
McAdoo sure sounded as if he is not thinking of a major overhaul up front, providing far more critique of Manning than he did the offensive line.
“The offensive line, they need to play better,’’ McAdoo said. “I agree with that. I think Eli needs to do a better job playing with fast feet and I think he needs to sit on that back foot in the pocket. We’re seeing a lot of man coverage, so the receivers, it’s gonna take a little time for them to get open, so everything may not be rhythmical. So he’s got to play with fast feet, he’s got to sit on his back foot and be ready to hitch into a throw.
“Things aren’t always clean in this league, you watch film of the end zones throughout the league and you’re seeing a lot of dirty pockets.’’
McAdoo, when he arrived as offensive coordinator in 2014, asked Manning to make a major adjustment as Tom Coughlin’s offense was replaced by McAdoo’s version of the West Coast attack. For the first time in his Giants career, Manning suddenly was asked to make different reads, concentrate more forcefully on his completion percentage and, perhaps the most demanding change, to completely alter his footwork.
Now, McAdoo is insisting Manning, entering his 14th season, get his feet moving even faster to compensate for a pocket that may be deteriorating around him.
“I think Eli could play better, certainly,’’ Aikman said, adding, “but it wouldn’t matter if you put a 26-year old Eli back there if you don’t address the offensive line.’’
General manager Jerry Reese after the season challenged Ereck Flowers, 23, to start playing like a first-round pick, and for the first time suggested Flowers’ future might not be at left tackle. McAdoo did not go there.
“I have a ton of confidence in Ereck,’’ McAdoo said. “He’s a guy, he’s all in, he’s working at it, you can make a case he could be here right now preparing to go out there and run at the combine. He’s a young player that has a lot of room to grow and we expect him to grow. I have confidence he’s going to grow. Where he ends up is where he ends up. Right now he’s playing left tackle like he’s always played for us, and we’ll go from there.’’
Flowers, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, tied for the league lead in penalties last season with 13. He also has allowed an NFL-high 128 quarterback pressures the past two years, according to Pro Football Focus.
Asked, specifically, if the plan is for Flowers to remain at left tackle, McAdoo said, “I’m saying right now it’s March 1, he’s an offensive lineman for the New York Giants.’’