Last season, the New York Giants ranked dead last in the National Football League in rushing with 89.2 yards per game, a shocking statistic for a franchise synonymous with smash-mouth football. They'll have to improve in that area in 2012, but how will they fix the problem?
With Brandon Jacobs leaving for San Francisco, Ahmad Bradshaw will carry the load in the backfield. But the back-up role is up for grabs. First-round pick David Wilson is a popular choice to replace the hard-nosed Jacobs, with experienced D.J. Ware, burner Da'Rel Scott and Andre Brown, a wild card, all looking for more minutes. There should be a healthy competition among that group during training camp.
Wilson has the most upside of the group. He rushed for 1,709 yards in his final season at Virginia Tech, but his carries aren't guaranteed. The Atlantic Coast Conference's 2011 Player of the Year impressed Big Blue's coaching staff during offseason practices with his quickness and catch-and-run ability. But that's not what will win him the job. He has to earn the team's trust more than anything.
"He is very fast, very quick, which is important," Eli Manning told Giants.com about Wilson. "I think for a running back - for him to get on the field, it is going to be about how quickly he can understand our protections and route combinations and those types of things."
There are other factors at play, too. Naturally, the offensive line, which was shuffled up last season, has to regroup and block for whoever is running the ball. Plus, Bradshaw needs a bounce-back season. He rushed for a career-low 3.9 yards per carry in 2011 for 659 total yards. But with Wilson waiting in the wings, the Giants have options and depth at the position and that alone will make a difference.
With Manning guiding the offense, the high-powered Giants don't need to run the ball as much as in years past, just enough to keep opposing defenses honest. In my opinion, Wilson eventually will emerge from a committee of running backs and form a dangerous one-two punch with Bradshaw. If that happens, the rest of the NFC East is going to have the problem.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. You can follow Adam on Twitter @PegCitySports.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Ahmad Bradshaw
- Brandon Jacobs
- National Football League