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Two-minute drill is promising sign for offense

Posted Aug 25, 2014

The Giants scored a touchdown on an 11-play, 91-yard drive to end the first half against the Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – One two-minute drive does not a preseason make, but Eli Manning was happy for the positive reinforcement it delivered and the foundation for future success he believes it created.

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The summertime highlight for the Giants’ first-team offense occurred late in the opening half of the team’s 35-24 victory over the Jets on Friday. Manning completed seven of 10 passes while leading the offense on an 11-play, 91-yard drive that took 1:48 to complete. The best feature of the possession was its ending – a five-yard touchdown pass to Rueben Randle.

The long march demonstrated the capability of the Giants’ new offense. Manning and Co. will try to end the preseason an on upswing they host New England Thursday night.

“It’s good to put something together, especially a two-minute drive right before the end of the half,” Manning said today. “To go down and get a touchdown there was nice to see. We’ve got to look at all of them and understand that we’ve still got room for improvement. We’ve got to get better on some things and make some better decisions and be a little bit more consistent.”

>> ELI MANNING NAMED TO ESPN.COM'S TOP-100 LIST

Manning has long been one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks at the end of a half or a game. He has engineered 30 game-winning drives in which he helped rally the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to win a game. Five of those occurred in the postseason, including two Super Bowls.

Manning is a cerebral quarterback, but he concedes that having less time to think can sometimes be beneficial.

“I think that’s the good thing about the two-minute – you’re usually running your base plays that you’ve run over and over and over again,” Manning said. “Sometimes they’ll simplify the defense a little bit where you huddle up, you get into, especially versus the Jets, third down and you’re going to get a crazy defense and you’re going to have to make adjustments and slow things down or you can just play fast, get up to the line quickly and call plays and just make your adjustments.”

Manning’s success in those situations has led to an oft-asked question: If he excels when time is running out, why not simulate the situation and run the two-minute offense at other points in the game and perhaps even full-time?

“We’ve been doing some no-huddle, practicing that,” Manning said. “But still, the two-minute is a little different than no-huddle. I think we had one run in that two-minute drill (Rashad Jennings gained seven yards), so we need to run the ball more than that in a normal circumstance. Hopefully, we can be fast-paced and find ways to get completions and move the ball, but still be able to run the ball to keep the defense not knowing what we’re going to do.”

Manning is still learning the nuances of the offense installed by new coordinator Ben McAdoo. Just as important, McAdoo is learning what Manning prefers to run and what he best executes.

>> SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: INSIDE LOOK AT GIANTS-JETS GAME

“We talked a lot – what plays I like in two-minute, what plays I like on third down,” Manning said. “He works with me on that. There are always plays in every offense that everybody has. A team’s playing a lot of 2-man, this is one of the plays you run. It’s probably in, I would think, in a lot of people’s offense. Those are some of the things we like. You’re always going to have routes that guys run well, that Victor (Cruz) has run a bunch over the years. They’re going to try to put him in those positions to run those routes and he can win. That’s part about just putting guys in positions to do well.”

An important element in that give-and-take is to permit Manning to run plays similar to those that have been successful in previous seasons – in essence, a marriage of old and new.

“When it is all said and done, it is football,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “Whatever you call, if it is the three-step game, whatever you call it is one thing, but someone on the outside identifying it would look at it and say, ‘Gee, I have seen that play before,’ so that is basically where you are. There is a lot of detail involved, which you are not going to know what it is about and recognize adjustments and so on and so forth. Much of what you see could be easily attributed to. That is to be expected.”

Of course, a ride like this is invariably going to get bumpy. McAdoo is an emotional, demanding coach who will let his players know – loudly and often profanely – when his expectations are not met. McAdoo can target the entire offense or an individual. It happened at practice today.

Manning considers it part of the process of learning a new offense.

“I think everybody knows what to do, but just the pace it needs to be done,” Manning said. “You want everything done precisely, so every day we’re trying to get better at that. We need to be corrected on some things and do things more efficiently, so we’re getting there, we’re making smalls steps, but we’re probably not all the way where we need to be. I think there will always be things that we can improve on. It’s not something you’re going to master in four weeks. As the season goes on, we’ll know what we do well, we’ll progress, we’ll put new plays in, different things in, to attack certain defenses.”

Manning and McAdoo have two weeks before the offense gets its regular-season unveiling in Detroit.