Football is back. Six months after the Superbowl the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills squared off in the Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton Ohio.
Sunday night's game was the first opportunity fans had to see the two sides play this season and there were plenty of intriguing sub-plots for fans and pundits to puzzle
One of the key sub-plots was how the New York Giants offense will look under new Offensive Co-ordinator ex-Packers Tight Ends Coach Ben McAdoo. The Giant's had talked in the pre-season about getting Eli Manning's pass completion over 70% in what would be a massive reversal of fortune for the signal caller who posted a franchise record 27 interceptions in 2013.
To do this McAdoo shifted the Giants to a West Coast offense with the focus on building an up tempo offense where Manning makes lots of short passes that are less likely to be intercepted.
The early signs from the Hall of Fame game are that the new system may be just the shot in the arm that Eli Manning needs. Manning threw 7 passes for six completions with a drop from wide receiver Jerrel Jurnigan on the his first throw of the game being the only blemish on Manning's record. Replicated in a regular season game those stats would give Manning just over a 85% completion rate on his throws.
The running game
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the Giants new offense though was how the running game responded to the fresh up tempo offense. Much of the off season speculation of the Giants has been about whether Rashad Jennings was physically capable of standing up to the rigours of being a number one running back.
The early indications for Jennings were positive. The 29-year-old ran the ball seven times for 23 yards but supplemented this with three receptions that he took for 20 yards.
Even more impressive though was rookie running back Andre Williams. Taken in the fourth round of this year's draft with the 112th pick, Williams' power running style gave the Giants running game a powerful one-two punch with the more elusive Jennings.
Rookie Williams took his power running game for seven carries for 49 yards at an average of 6.9 yards per carry. Included in this was a 21 yard rushing attempt in which
Williams was stopped just yards from the goal line and a four yard touchdown run in which Williams exploded through the line of scrimmage to post the Giant's first points of the game.
Overall, the the Giants 17-14 victory over the Bills has given their fans much encouragement that the offense could be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming season.
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