New York Giants

Running game is Giants biggest weakness

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (28) runs in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins on January 1, 2017, at FedExField in Landover, MD. The New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins, 19-10. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)
Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

The New York Giants rode the brilliant performance of their defense to an 11-5 record and NFC wild card playoff berth in 2016. The Giants’ defense finished the regular season allowing the second-fewest points per game in the league.

While the old saying about defense winning championships proved to be true this time (the New England Patriots led the league in fewest points allowed), the teams that make a deep run in the playoffs have to be able to score.

If the Giants want to have better success in 2017, they will have to be much better in the run game.

The Giants were 26th in points scored last season. What hurt New York was having to rely too much on its passing game, especially in the red zone. The Giants scored just six rushing touchdowns last season, dead last in the league.

The running game collapsed as a whole, not just in the red zone. The Giants were 25th in the league in total yards per game but 29th in rushing yards per game and 29th in rushing yards per carry.

Not all of that falls on the running backs. The offense line has to be better as well. But the backs have to do their part as well.

No New York rusher in 2016 had a run of longer than 22 yards. Without the threat of a rushing attack, opponents were able to focus their attention on quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants’ passing game. Manning had his worst statistical season since 2013.

In the offseason, the Giants were able to get wide receiver Brandon Marshall and collected tight end Evan Engram with their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. These moves should help Manning and the passing game.

The Giants need a few other moves to come through to supplement their ground game. The club signed free-agent guard D.J. Fluker and offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty. Whether Bisnowaty can compete for the right tackle position is not known, but Fluker is being counted on to beef up the interior of the line. The veteran has some things to prove.

Still, the backs have to be better. Giants coach Ben McAdoo has said second-year back Paul Perkins will open camp as the starting running back. Perkins, after splitting carries with the now-departed Rashad Jennings last year, was second behind Jennings in carries and yards last year. He gained 456 yards on 112 carries.

Perkins did not start until the final game of the regular season against the Washington Redskins, when he rushed for 102 yards. Perkins did not score a touchdown in his rookie season.

Even though the Giants picked Wayne Gallman in the draft, Perkins won’t have to be looking over his shoulder, at least in the beginning.

The Giants can’t afford to wait too long, however. Manning is not getting any younger and the NFC is a tough, wacky conference. The Giants should not expect their defense to carry the load as it did last season. The offense will have to be more productive. While the team did get more firepower on offense, Manning will need better support from the running game to take pressure off him.

If Perkins is as good as the Giants believe or Gallman can duplicate his college success, the Giants should be in better shape this season. That remains to be seen, however.


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