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New York Giants Focused on Making Running Game a Strength Again

March 3rd, 2013 at 6:30 AM
By Jen Polashock

For the New York Giants, their offseason priorities remain in the trenches and getting them improved and somewhat revamped. On the offensive side of the ball, it begins obviously with the line. Keeping the offensive captain not only upright, but giving Eli Manning valuable time in the pocket will benefit the rest of the skill players. What should follow is the running game and being able to depend, once again, on that aspect to gain back time of possession to the blue side. They ranked 25th in the league (with a tad over 29 minutes). Needless to say, this hopeful increase in TOP would also help the defensive side of the ball.

Head coach Tom Coughlin briefly lamented over the loss of big-hearted running back Ahmad Bradshaw, but keeps his focus on the tasks at hand.

"We have things that obviously have to be accomplished moving forward with players and we have to have the resources to be able to do that," Coughlin said.

Coughlin affirmed that this summer’s training camp will be an open competition at the tailback position amongst David Wilson, Andre Brown and Da'Rel Scott for the supposed starting position. Don’t read into that too much nor get nervous about lack of experience carrying the load. There were years that folks questioned the ability of backs to step up.

Tiki Barber retired and without question, big back (and still a fan favorite) Brandon Jacobs stepped in to lead the way. Ahmad Bradshaw did the same after Jacobs’ departure. The one correlating factor that many seen to forget is: running backs coach Jerald Ingram. Ingram has been with the Giants since 2004 and as with fellow coach Mike Pope (tight ends), he will have his players ready.

Another aspect of the Giants run game that very few stop to remember is that Big Blue doesn’t have a clear-cut back since the days of Tiki. The G-Men, rather, utilize a running back committee. If one back is they guy that eats up the opposing defense, that’s the guy that is “starter for the day,” as he’ll get the most carries.

Injuries will also be a predisposing factor to whom gets the handoff (insert obligatory shotgun-draw joke here) from #10. Andre Brown (an UFA still) was put on IR with the designation to return after fracturing his lower leg in week 12 versus Green Bay. He is supposedly moving ahead in his rehabilitation and is expected to be ready for the start of OTAs. Da'Rel Scott’s knee is also on schedule to be ready by the same time frame. This should add another dimension to the competition that Coughlin declared for them.

"The more competition the better," he said. "They're going to contribute, compete with one another, and hopefully make us better just like all other forms of competition."

Besides the three tailbacks mentioned, the options remain: Ryan Torain, Kregg Lumpkin (another UFA) and FB Henry Hynoski. While the first two mid-to-end-of-season signings are nowhere near being “starter” potential, newly-emerging fan favorite, Hynoski, is slowly building up his resume in the blue offense to include more than great blocking.

General Manager Jerry Reese had a bit to add to the upcoming competition and some “assuming” that David Wilson perhaps taking over the leader role vacated by the release of Bradshaw.

“It’s competition. It’s what we do with the Giants: we try to create competition at the running back spot, just like the other positions. We have David, Andre Brown and Da’Rel Scott. We’ll keep looking to add a fourth or fifth guy.”

Also, since we are talking about Reese and how the offseason is broached since his inception, the scouting process (even statistically) remains a tremendous factor.

“We always try to get an edge. But just old-fashioned scouting is what we try to hang our hats on. We put the numbers in and see what the numbers say and then put our eyes on players and see what our eyes say. I think that’s most important. But we don’t put our head in the sand and ignore it as well. We try to put it all together on what we think players are and challenge our scouts, kind of the unsung heroes of what we try to do,” he said.

While most of the recent hot conversation has revolved around “sexy” players like the starting wideouts (Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz), attention is where it belongs: power football. Thankfully.


Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, Brandon Jacobs, David Wilson, Football, Henry Hynoski, Jerald Ingram, Jerry Reese, Kregg Lumpkin, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Ryan Torain, Tiki Barber, Tom Coughlin

8 Responses to “New York Giants Focused on Making Running Game a Strength Again”

  1.  jfunk says:

    I think a healthy Brown and Wilson will make our running game better by themselves. I hope the line play will be improved. I have no tangible reason to think it will, other than I suspect Baas has yet to play his best ball. Anybody should be an improvement from Diehl last year.

    On the other side of things, I still believe worrying about ball control as part of the offensive scheme is a mistake at this point. The current Giants have the most explosive offensive personnel in team history. I believe that to operate said offense with any kind of governor outside a 4th quarter blowout situation is a mistake.

    •  rlhjr says:

      Here’s hoping the right hand side of the O-line develops into something besides a token-less turn style for pass blocking and sheet of rice paper in run blocking. I really get ill when I see running backs having to improvise prior to reaching the line of scrimmage. And for the last three years that is exactly what Giants backs have had to do.

      I can understand and even expect running backs to improvise. That’s what good backs do really well anyway. But any back will tell you, that there is supposed to be a hole or a crease to run to if not thru. The criticism of Jacobs and Bradshaw had been their not hitting the holes quick enough. As I said at the time, “what freaking hole?” Yes both Brown and Wilson are quicker to the scrimmage line than either of their predecessor’s, but they will before long be in the same predicament. No freaking where to run.

      I don’t want the Giants to ever become as limp wristed as the Packers or the Pats. And I do note that the Pats are trying to pattern themselves after the Giants in as much as they want to develop a physical run game to go with their passing attack. The Pack would do well to follow. And the 49′er to some extent are already there.

      As witnessed by last season, the Giants are completely out of sorts when reduced to being stuffed in the running game. And on the other side of the ball they are equally out of sorts when opposing teams can run against them, and therefore effectively negate the Giant pass rush.

      Simple fact is when the Giants don’t run the ball well, they don’t pass well either. Giving Eli a strong run game is like opening the chicken coop gate when you know a fox is about. He will kill a defense. And when the Giants don’t rush the passer, they suffer. It’s Blue DNA and it’s proven to win no matter what new era folks say we are in.

      Fact, everybody has a plan and a smart cerebral way to do things until they get punched in the middle of the face. Then the plans don’t work so well.
      That punch in the face has been the Giants calling card for many a year.
      I fully embrace the Giants offensive capabilities. And I also know to see those capabilities in full gallop all that need be done is to convince either Gilbride or Coughlin (OR BOTH) to unleash a hurry up offense a few times during a game to throw the opposing defense completely off balance.
      Maybe….the Giants way is good enough. Maybe they just need better O-line support to make the method work? Let’s put that out there….OK?

      Eli is master of that although he never gets to show it prior to the end of a half, or the last minute and a half of a pressure playoff game. What would happen if he got to build a lead in that manner vice attempting to tie or win a crucial game? The Giants are basically a rhythm flow offense. The bass part of the Giants music is the run. The rest of the music is thin and sketchy without it. NO RHYTHM.

      That being said, in a game like football it’s always a good option to be able to remove your wrist watch, and pound the snoot out of somebody. BOOK IT.
      So yeah, I vote for offensive line defensive line defensive back and linebacker help. And remember, its a two year program. Not an overnighter people.

  2.  G-MenFan says:

    Many years ago, after Ken Griffey Jr. had gotten injured again in what was at that time his still young career, I remember listening to an interview. I can’t remember exactly who it was but I remember what he said. He said Griffey was going to be an all-time great “if he can learn how to play the game without getting injured.”

    I know that’s baseball and not the hectic free-for-all that football is, but I’m wondering if that doesn’t apply at least a little bit to the game of football too. There just seem to be certain guys that don’t know how to play without getting hurt. I’m wondering if Andre Brown is one of those guys. I love the kid and always have since Reese picked him. But I just don’t have any confidence in his ability to “stay out there.”

    •  rlhjr says:

      I think there is a way to take care of yourself. I think his ownership wants RG3 to learn that method. Years ago, Franco Harris was said to be a very cautious runner especially for a man with a 230 pound frame. Jim Brown called him gutless. Still others (LT, Larry Wilson, Carson Jack Youngblood to name a few) never backed down and as a result were never injured when they were young because they were off guard. I think common sense has to be your guide. Just like getting out of bounds rather than putting you head and shoulder into a defender.

      But a talent like Griffey what are you gong to tell him, hey Jr. don’t go after every ball out there in center field. Don’t be concerned about stopping the ball from leaving the park, no big deal. That would be like telling Mays to let a few drop in front of or behind him. They wouldn’t listen anyway.

      With Brown the good thing is he’s had no issues with the achilles. The other good thing is a healed bone is stronger than it was prior to breaking.
      You can rest players, but you can’t protect them. You have to let them play, and that especially true of talented ones.

  3.  Nosh.0 says:

    Speaking of stats to evaluate talent, I’ve been a fan of what the football outsiders guys do just because it’s different. But football will always be a game of scouting when it comes to talent evaluation.

    Baseball on the other hand, at the Major League level anyway, where advanced stats can tell you almost every thing you need to know about a players on field value. However at the minor league and amateur levels (HS, College) it’s still all about scouting.

  4.  fanfor55years says:

    Yeah, the running game. Well, in Wilson and Brown we have plenty of talent, way more than necessary to sustain a solid running attack. The issue is going to be all about the offensive line, which over the past few years has evolved into one that is pretty decent at protecting Eli but doesn’t dominate anyone at the LOS so requires the backs to be outstanding rather than just very good in order to consistently move the ball.

    Beatty is very good in protection and improving a bit as a run-blocker but not dominating there. Neither of our current guards are able to pull, which is a VERY significant defect in the run game (Snee was a great pulling guard in his prime, and we had a guard on the other side, most recently Seubert, who could do that too, and that was a very big element in the success of our running attack because of the ability to get more hats to one side of the field than the defense could handle). Baas needs to get, and stay, healthy to really help much at a position where his reaction time has to be almost instantaneous. And we need a solution on the right edge that is better than what we’ve had of late (since McKenzie “lost” it in 2011).

    I see some potential help in Mosley (who is a real mauler), whom I think has a real shot to be a solid NFL guard. Brewer is a big man with supposedly quick feet. Here’s hoping he wins the RT job in camp and goes on to show he was a great pick. If he can learn how to gain leverage despite his height he could really help in the run game as much as in the area where they are already counting upon him: to use that height and long arms to protect Eli’s right side.

    So my expectation is that the Giants think they now have in place three keys to the long-term “team” that will man the O-line: Beatty, Brewer and Mosley. I suspect they are still expecting Baas to work out well. Good centers can have long NFL careers and Baas still appears to me to be a potentially very good one if he can finally stay healthy (but I’m not counting on that since he has been hurt almost since the day he got here to varying degrees). I think they are hoping that McCants is going to be a long-term answer that gives them the third tackle that every team needs (remember, Nick Saban speaks highly of him and says he wishes he had been able to recruit him to ‘Bama, which is high praise indeed).

    But having said all that, Reese needs to draft offensive linemen this April and next, and among those players will have to be at least two interior linemen and another tackle. And for my money two of those picks should be the kind of players who are strong and mobile, and can pull to the opposite side of the line and allow a good running back to tuck behind him, wait patiently, and then explode through a gap created by that blocker in concert with one of the others who lined up on the side to which the team is running in the first place. These guys have to be big, relatively quick, and mean. I want David Diehl’s attitude, Rich Seubert’s (or even better, a younger Chris Snee’s) short-distance quickness, and at least 295 pounds of muscle.

    Get that done and we can stop worrying about our running game. When you have the above, plus Eli and his receivers, defenses will have very few answers that will work. And while I know many are worried about our defense, which is certainly legit, my view is that while we MUST solve a serious problem at defensive tackle and we DO need another cornerback, if we address those two positions while getting a real improvement in the offensive line and finding the right placekicker, we will be right in the thick of things again. The old saying was you win championships with defense. Well, in this new era of the NFL I think it should be you win championships with “good enough” defenses and extraordinary offenses. The Giants aren’t so far off that goal as many think.

  5.  CT GIANT says:

    THE AFTER THOUGHT: DA’REL SCOTT, 5’11 215lbs, {a Tiki size duplicate}.
    An official 4.34 beating all RB’s at the combine 2011, and 2ND overall, here comes a kid drafted in the 7Th rd 221, in a “Lockout”.
    In July, camp opens, he has zero help, no OTA’s, no film study, just gets a uniform, which was #34, now #33.
    So preseason arrives, he runs a fake {Mr. Gilbride really?} and uses that speed
    and goes 56 yards to the house, not bad.
    BUT, his real worth, was to come later, with Eli handing off to Scott, an real hole
    opens, Scott almost fell, down on one knee, takes off {think Pats} and runs it back 96 yards to score.
    Coughlin knowing full well, this kid has no clue what he suppose to do, puts him in the Saints massacre on 3rd down 11 yards, he takes the ball, makes the yards
    and oops, the ball comes out.
    Ruled a TO, replay was clear, it was not he was down! Somehow, he gets 5 carries that year, and becomes known as a “fumbler”?
    Fast forward, 2012 David Wilson, 5’9 200lbs get picked at #32 {Doug Martin gone} giants have to pick and took more time with this pick then I’ve ever seen.
    Andre Brown, David Wilson, Da’rel Scott which in fact was Scott’s first OTA’s mini camp, camp year with Wilson.

    IMO, if the giants had a good O-line with real blockers, Da’rel would indeed have his day, and his unfortunate timing has made him an afterthought. I remember well, Tiki blasting off 40-50 yards with holes the size of Mississippi, with a much less speed and will argue that this kid, can run between the tackles, can catch, and once he squares up his shoulders, not many will get near him.

    Not likely, as all eyes on Wilson and Brown, but we don’t know much about Wilson yet, his toughness, his stamina, can he hold up?
    Brown is my bet, he’s got a 6’0 227lbs of power, and better speed then most his size, I’ll bet he gets the call.

    Scott will either make his presence in 2013, or not make it at all, I’m pulling for him.


  6.  clever username says:

    “Big Blue doesn’t have a clear-cut back since the days of Tiki” — The NFL is different since the days of Tiki, and unless you have a freak like AP, nobody is using a 1-back system (not even Houston with Arian Foster).

    For a #3/4 back, i’d like to see them bring Lumpkin back. he’s cheap and serviceable. he can block, and he can pound out a few yards when needed. he’s a good veteran presence to help out the likes of Wilson and Scott (who i’d still like to see get more involved).

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