The sleeping Giants need a running game
By Joe Weit
The New York Giants may find themselves at the top of the NFC East division, but they are far from playing like a first place team.
A modest 4-3 record, with a divisional record of 2-2, is enough to keep them ahead of the pack… for now.
That record should have been better, though. Starting this season 0-2 did not help, especially considering they all but gave those games away at the end of the fourth quarter.
Regardless of what their record shows or doesn't show, their on-the-field play proves they are not a good football team. And if they want to keep playoff hopes alive in the latter half of this season, they need to turn one of their weaknesses into their strengths.
This specific key weakness: lack of a good run game, something that has been a long-standing pillar of Giants offense.
Sure, when you have a quarterback like Eli Manning and a wide receiver like Odell Beckham Jr., you want to get the ball in their hands. But you can't just depend on two players to run an entire offense.
There was a reason why Eli was able to throw the ball for almost 5,000 yards (4,933) so effectively during their last championship run in 2011. That reason was the Giants punishing ground attack.
Thunder and Lightning. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. The one-two punch. Together, they rushed for over 1,200 yards (571 and 659, respectively). That was with both of them missing a few games.
Fans and enemies alike referred to this combo as the Giants' Two-Headed Monster. Jacobs, who was built more like a linebacker than a running back, would punish any defender silly enough to get in his path. And after he beat up the defense, Bradshaw would come in to jet right past them.
But, as is so common with today's athletes, the Monster split and went in search of higher paying teams after winning a championship. And there the Monster was put to rest. And in the years since, fans have seen glimpses and flashes of potential running back threats that, for one reason or another, never lived up to the hype.
Is now the time to wake the Monster up?
Apparently not. The Giants total offense ranks just 10th in the NFC. And their pathetic rushing offense ranks 15th in the NFC, barely edging out the last ranked Detroit Lions. The Giants don't necessarily need to beat out the rest of the NFC. All they need to do is beat out the NFC East, which they are struggling to do.
Right now, the Giants have less than 100 rushing YPG, and find themselves under the divisional average. An even more startling statistic – their total rushing yards this year, 669, is well under half of their passing yards for the year, 1,776. In fact, the Giants have accumulated nearly the same amount of penalty yards this season as they have on the ground!
The NFC East has panned out to be one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. The Giants are the only team in the division not currently led by a backup quarter back (and yes, Sam Bradford is no better than a backup). A playoff-caliber team should be able to step up and run ahead of the pack, and this division is up for the Giants' taking.
They just have to run.
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