Former NFL head coach and current ESPN NFL football analyst Jon Gruden told The New York Post on Sept. 3 that he's concerned about the New York Giants' offense.
Gruden shared his sentiments with The New York Post's Paul Schwartz on Sept. 3, saying a new system is behind the Giants' inconsistency on offense:
"The early returns on the new West Coast offense implemented by the Giants are not good, but that is not a huge deal for Jon Gruden, the former (Oakland) Raiders and (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers head coach who will be in the booth with Mike Tirico in Detroit when the Giants face the (Detroit) Lions on ESPN's 'Monday Night Football.'
"'I'm more concerned with the personnel right now and the question marks they have on the offensive side of the ball than I am with the system,' Gruden said Tuesday on a conference call.
"Gruden said he has been 'studying the Giants carefully for the last couple weeks,' and it hardly is a revelation that his view of their offense is 'it's been up and down throughout the preseason.' In particular, Gruden sees a different Eli Manning as he works out the kinks in the new offense.
"'Eli Manning has changed his fundamentals -- he even stands differently in the shotgun,' Gruden said. 'There are a lot of different receivers, there are new linemen, there are new running backs. So not only is he learning a new system and learning new coaches, he's had to react to a lot of new players everywhere. It's going to be, I think, a process throughout the season.'
"Manning has said the same thing, that the offense is a work in progress. He managed to direct just three touchdown drives in 17 series with the starters and did not complete half his passes. These things take time.
"'I remember when we went to Tampa, we weren't very good at all the first few weeks, but by the end of the season, we were clicking on all cylinders and got hot at the right time,' Gruden said. 'Eli Manning has to stay committed to it. He has to continue to keep an open mind, and hopefully they get Odell Beckham back, because they don't appear to have the firepower at wide receiver or tight end that Giants teams have had in the past, and the offensive line is still a big question mark from the personnel standpoint regardless of the system.'"
On the other hand, both Gruden and Tirico expressed concern for the Lions' secondary, per MLive.com's Gillian Van Stratt:
"This coming Monday is a big day for the city of Detroit.
"With the (Detroit) Tigers and (Kansas City) Royals battling for the American League Central lead at Comerica Park and the Detroit Lions kicking off the NFL season against the New York Giants next door at Ford Field, a lot of eyes will be fixed on the Motor City.
"But for two guys, Monday Night Football's Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, attention will not be split. Their focus will be firmly on what they see as the make-or-break unit for the Lions -- the secondary.
"'They have to play better in the secondary,' Tirico said this afternoon in a Monday Night Football media conference call. 'That (problem) has been there since the last three years.'
"Last season, the Lions' pass defense ranked in the bottom 10 in the league in terms of passing yards allowed. Detroit gave up 246.9 yards per game through the air.
"'I don't know if what they did in the offseason has addressed that specifically and that's the area I'll be watching most against the Giants,' Tirico said. '(The secondary) will determine if this group can get to the playoffs or they're a .500 team.'
"The Lions did address the secondary in the offseason, but not with one of their top draft picks. Detroit's first move was to cut safety Louis Delmas and replace him with James Ihedigbo, who had spent the past two seasons in Baltimore working with Detroit's new offensive coordinator, Teryl Austin.
"They also believe that rookie Jerome Couplin, who went undrafted out of William & Mary is a diamond safety in the rough. Starting corners Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis are expected to improve after getting one year in Detroit under their belt.
"'The Lions, their secondary, to me, is very much a question mark,' Gruden said. 'I think (Mike) Zimmer, in Minnesota, is going to do some good things with that defense with his scheme. If I had to pick one team, I'm going to go with the Minnesota Vikings. I think overall, by the end of the season, they'll have the best defense in the NFC North.'"