By now we all know the New York Giants' run game got off to a miserable start last week against the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Tom Coughlin has been badgered on David Wilson and the running back situation to the point where one can only imagine Coughlin at practice this week with his trademark blood red face of rage, boiling at temperatures so high that Wilson has no choice but to orbit the fiery Coughlin’s line of sight at all times with the ball properly tucked away.
Despite all the frustration, Coughlin’s options are limited and both he and Wilson know that the second-year running back offers the team the best chance to win, so long as he hold onto the football. However, in the instance that Wilson is unable to make the proper adjustments, the Giants do have alternate options at RB — a few which may make an appearance Sunday regardless of Wilson’s performance as both he and Coughlin have yet to confirm the starter for Sunday’s match against the Broncos.
One potential starter could be the man who replaced Wilson last week; third-year back out of Maryland, Da’Rel Scott.
Due to Andre Brown’s broken leg, Scott was catapulted into the second seed on the Giants depth chart. Scott carried the ball five times for 23 yards last week, showing flashes of some power and speed running in between tackles, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. However, 16 of those yards came on one carry. And on the majority of his rushes, Scott seemed content with not trying to do too much as he would gain a few yards and seem to go down.
It’s entirely possible that Scott was a bit tentative and mindful of what had just occurred to Wilson and thus his primary focus became ball security and not necessarily breaking away from tackles, as that was how Wilson lost the ball and his job in the first place. Either way, expect Scott to see a few touches and attempt to impress on Sunday as he is surely aware of the opportunity ahead of him. He heads into week two unlike last week, with the preparation, mindset, and expectation that he will not only carry the ball some this week, but that he will also be auditioning for a larger role with Giants if not another team in the foreseeable future.
Many have also pointed to rookie running back Michael Cox as a viable option based on his play in the preseason. He is indeed an intriguing player, as he has shown potential in his vision, decisive burst, quick feet, and the ability to make defenders miss. Unfortunately, this is far too early in the season and important of a game for Coughlin to put the ball in the hands of a rookie. Barring an array of injuries, expect Cox to do his thing on special teams and that’s about it — if, of course, he's even active. He may end up drawing the short straw.
Clearly there was not enough experience in the Giants' backfield and thus the team was reunited with an old friend in Brandon Jacobs. The 31-year-old back brings experience, chemistry, leadership, and a bruising running style to a Giants backfield that could use all of the above. And, given his familiarity with the playbook, No. 34 is expected to see at least some key time on the field Sunday.
Jacobs, last seen on the 49ers bench, is essentially a year removed from any real action. Therefore there’s really no telling how the 31-year-old will perform aside from the fact that he is sure to run hard to disprove all of his doubters. He will most likely see the bulk of his carries in short yardage and goal line situations; however, his most significant contribution will come as a blocker as with the uncertainty at the position the Giants will look to attack through the air. Perhaps even set up the run with the pass considering Champ Bailey’s will be inactive and the fact that the Giants' strength is in their receiving corps. Although Jacobs doesn’t have the smoothest hands, expect the Giants to utilize him as more than simply a blocker on third downs and eventually set up some screens to get the runaway train that is Jacobs out in the open field where he is a load for any defender to bring down.
Ultimately, the back that gives the Giants the best shot at winning is the talented, but scrutinized, David Wilson. Coach Coughlin knows this very well and Wilson will surely be provided an opportunity to redeem himself. According to Coughlin, Wilson’s issues are a result of carelessness and improper technique, both of which can and must be resolved if Wilson wants to see the field again.
Former Giants running back Tiki Barber, who rectified a similar problem in the early potion of his career, shared similar sentiments to that of Coughlin.
All signs seem to suggest Wilson’s mistakes are adjustable. Look for him to right this ship whenever it is that he gets his hands on the ball as you better believe Coughlin will keep a sharp eye on the “marked man.” Who knows, perhaps all this fumbling could be a blessing in disguise when defenders attempt to make arm tackles on Wilson in an effort to rip the ball out, making it a little easier for Wilson to break the tackle. Then again that’s how he got into trouble the first place, by trying to extend plays that seemed to be over. Which yields an intriguing question; will the way in which Wilson will now carry the ball affect his natural explosiveness and running style? Based on his own experiences, Tiki Barber seems to suggest that it will, though not in a negative sense.
“I'd run through the contact in a compact way," he said. "It allowed me to run through tackles better. My feet were close together, and I was more balanced. The unintended consequence of carrying the ball like that is that I became a more powerful runner."
Only time will tell if the same will apply to Wilson.
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