Dwayne Harris: Giants working on deep passing game


The New York Giants' offense sits as a relative unknown as we press towards training camp.

Of course, Odell Beckham Jr. returns, as does iron man Eli Manning. But few other aspects of the offense offer reliable, tangible optimism that Big Blue will turn around in 2016 and swipe a wide open NFC East.

We still don't know if or how well Victor Cruz will perform after missing more than a year. Receiver Sterling Shepard has drawn rave reviews, but is an unknown as a rookie. The Giants didn't upgrade the offensive line. The running game enters this year with an uninspiring collection atop the depth chart.

Clearly, New York has plenty to work on when training camp opens later this month. Receiver Dwayne Harris pointed out two points of emphasis this offseason:

"I think we're getting better just throwing the ball down the field more," Harris told the team's official website. "We're definitely trying to work on throwing the ball down the field, throwing more deep passes. And (we need to get) the run game going. That's one of the key elements in our offense. We got it going later on in the season. We've just got to continue that momentum and keep carrying it in the beginning of this season."

Improving the running game is obvious. New York averaged a middling 100.6 yards per game in 2015.

Adding a deep-ball attack is a more interesting examination.

The Giants led the NFL in completions between 6-10 yards last season, with 150, per the team. However, on passes 11-20 yards, Manning completed just 85, good for 25th in the NFL.

Outside of Beckham, the Giants didn't possess a deep threat last season. And with OBJ consistently double covered, most of his big plays came on runs after the catch, not long bombs. Harris could be a solution in 2016, but his route running has been suspect throughout his career, and making a leap in Year 6 is difficult to fathom.

Personnel aside, coach Ben McAdoo's offense just doesn't function in bombs-away mode. Unlike previous play caller, Kevin Gilbride, McAdoo's offense relies on a quick passing attack to get the ball out of Manning's hands swiftly. McAdoo favors high-percentage timing routes over deep gambles -- this attack adds the benefit of aiding a weak offensive line by getting the ball out quick. Engineering a more efficient Manning was a reason McAdoo was hired three seasons ago -- and part of the reason he was promoted to head coach this year.

While the Giants could certainly use a boost in their deep passing game, don't expect huge strides in that area in 2016.