Giants run out of shotgun to keep defenses honest
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning loves the shotgun formation.
Through eight games, Manning has thrown out of the shotgun 63 percent of the time (not including quarterback runs or sacks).
While Manning has thrown for 1,512 of his 2,301 yards and 10 of his 12 touchdowns out of the shotgun, running out of that formation has been a staple for the Giants under offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and head coach Tom Coughlin — especially the “Shotgun Counter Inside Handoff.”
It is a play that the Giants have ran (or a similar formation) 33 of their 210 rushing plays (16 percent) for 170 yards (19 percent) this year.
And they have, and will, run the play at any point of the game, any down and at any position on the field.
The Giants ran out of the shotgun this year:
• Eight times on third down.
• Sixteen times on first down.
• Twenty-one times in the opponent's territory.
• Twelve times in the red zone.
They aren't shy in calling it, either. They ran it as many as nine times against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 41 yards or as few as twice against the Philadelphia Eagles in a Week 4 loss.
It's gotten them as many as 33 yards on a third-and-10 at the Giants' 30 in a Week 1 game against Dallas or 4 yards on a goal-line situation Week 6 against the San Francisco 49ers that set up a touchdown on the next play.
The Giants have a number of formations for the shotgun inside handoff — left and right along with different personnel groupings, as well. They will run toss sweeps, direct snaps and delays, but their favorite play definitely is the counter.
This is how the play typically breaks down:
The offensive line shows pass protection in their sets with tight end Martellus Bennett lined up tight outside left tackle Will Beatty. Of the wide receivers, Domenik Hixon is set wide to the left with Victor Cruz in the slot. Hakeem Nicks is spread wide to the right typically in man coverage.
Manning is in the shotgun and running back Ahmad Bradshaw to his right, set in between the right guard and tackle.
At the snap, center David Baas and left guard Kevin Boothe double the nose tackle before Booth slides and cuts off the left inside linebacker. Beatty blocks the end in front of him as does fellow tackle Sean Locklear on the other side.
Bennett will cut off the right inside linebacker as right guard Chris Snee pulls to the left and looks for the first man to block — typically the strong safety. Snee also could block the outside linebacker or even the defensive end depending on the look of the defense.
This is happening while Bradshaw fakes a step to his left and crosses the face of Manning for the inside handoff; Bradshaw has the option of cutting it up inside the B or C gap across the formation or taking it outside.
The play can get chunks of yardage, but it is more designed to play off Manning's liking of throwing out of the shotgun formation. It allows the Giants to force the defense to respect the run game out of the shotgun.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.