The Giants are building a dominant red-zone offense

new york giants, isaiah hodgins
Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins (18) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have made substantial improvements in their red zone efficiency, climbing from 32nd in 2021 to the fifth-highest conversion rate in 2022.

Under the guidance of Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens, the Giants only managed a red zone touchdown conversion rate of 44.74%, but this metric soared to 64.81% in the recent season, surpassed only by the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, and Detroit Lions.

At this juncture, the issue for the Giants’ red-zone offense isn’t the conversion rate, but rather reaching that part of the field more often to increase opportunities for success.

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The Giants made significant improvements to their talent base:

During the off-season, general manager Joe Schoen brought in several high-quality talents to rejuvenate an offense in dire need of bolstering.

The acquisition of Isaiah Hodgins from the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad was an excellent initial move, especially given his record of four touchdowns in eight games and a 78.6% catch rate.

Daniel Bellinger, a former fourth-round pick from 2022, also presents an effective red-zone target, having scored two receiving touchdowns last season and added a rushing touchdown.

To initiate OTA’s on Monday, the Giants conducted several red zone drills, during which both Ballenger and recently acquired TE, Darren Waller, scored two touchdowns each, demonstrating a promising new dynamic duo for the 2023 season.

In 2020, Waller scored a career-high nine touchdowns but only managed to score five times in the subsequent two seasons, probably due to injuries and suboptimal usage.

Waller boasts a 70% career catch rate and achieved a career-high 1,196 yards during his 2020 season, which also happened to be his only Pro Bowl year. However, his receiving depth shows that he excels at short and medium-range targets.

During his best season, Waller caught 65 passes from 0–9 yards from the line of scrimmage, accruing 622 yards and three touchdowns. At medium range, 10-19 yards from the line of scrimmage, he added 270 yards and four touchdowns.

Given that the red zone is 20 yards in length, he secured seven touchdowns within that range, although this doesn’t factor in yards after the catch.

Nevertheless, the Giants are not solely relying on their taller receivers to assist in the red zone. They also have quick slot options like Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Jaylin Hyatt. It would be an oversight not to mention Sterling Shepard, who has consistently succeeded in this area throughout his career.

The Giants’ offense now boasts a higher level of talent for the 2023 season than in previous years. However, we’ve only discussed the receivers thus far; now it’s time to consider Saquon Barkley and his impressive record.

In the previous year, Barkley delivered 10 rushing touchdowns and amassed 1,312 ground yards. During his debut season, he contributed 2,028 scrimmage yards and 15 total touchdowns, positioning him as a key player in the Giants’ red zone offense.

With Barkley’s capacity to gain yards and his exceptional athleticism and power, he may be the Giants’ most potent offensive weapon. Barkley’s presence facilitates play-action and inventive play calls, which contributed significantly to the Giants’ enhanced conversion rate in the last season.

When talent is lacking, innovation can often compensate. Head coach Brian Daboll and coordinator Mike Kafka performed admirably, developing unique play concepts and delivering the ball to unexpected players for touchdown conversions.

A similar strategy is anticipated for the forthcoming season, but with a plethora of skilled players to utilize, opposing defenses should find it almost impossible to predict the Giants’ moves.