As the season approaches, we will take an in depth look at the defending champions.
Projected starter: RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Backups: RB D.J. Ware, RB Andre Brown, RB David Wilson, RB Da’Rel Scott and FB Henry Hynoski.
Player to watch: David Wilson. The Giants drafted Wilson with their first pick this past draft and have huge expectations for him. Wilson will have to come to camp and prove himself. The Giants are the kind of team that like to find replacements on their roster, and all the running backs on this roster are capable of replacing Brandon Jacobs, their number two back. With Bradshaw injuring his feet every year, Wilson was drafted to possibly take over for Bradshaw in the future. He is quick and elusive and has shown great explosion from scrimmage during practice and preseason games. Wilson has the ability to be a top running back out of the back field as well. He must work on his pass protection in order to win a starting position on this roster. It will take him some time for him learn the schemes and grasp the offense, but once that happens other teams will have a force to reckon with.
Strength: Giants are getting younger and faster. The Giants lost size and the veteran experience when Brandon Jacobs left for San Francisco. It was no secret that Jacobs had lost an edge since his breakout year back in 2008. He has not been the same and had lost some of the speed and power he once had. When the Giants lost Jacobs, they really only lost a veteran player who knew the playbook. That said, Bradshaw is the starter for this team. The depth chart positions behind Bradshaw are really what the question is. Even when Jacobs was there, Bradshaw was the goal line back. He had nine touchdowns last year and Jacobs had seven. Imagine if Bradshaw got just half of the goal line carries that Jacobs had?
If the Giants want to stick with a two back formula, which they should, Ware, Wilson, Scott or Brown will have to prove they can handle the load. The Giants have more weapons than most people believe. Rookie running back Wilson may be the most elusive, quickest and most explosive of the four backups. Brown is a balanced back who offers good muscle and the ability to catch the ball out of the back field. Scott is the fastest of the bunch and has big play potential written all over him. Ware is the most experienced out of the bunch and can catch out of the backfield and provide average pass protection.
It remains to be seen how many running backs the Giants will carry. All are very young and have little experience on the field. The Giants do have to consider carrying Henry Hynoski on the roster as well. He is an excellent blocker and showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield last year. The rushing attack will look different without Jacobs’ power running style. It remains to be seen if this will be a good thing or not.
Weakness: Inexperience. With Jacobs gone, Bradshaw wants to be the guy. He wants more carries and is the toughest player of the running backs. He can match up well with most running backs around the league. The only issue that keeps him back is his injuries. Health is always a concern for him and he was only able to play in 12 games last season. He got through the post season by getting an injection in his foot. Behind Bradshaw the Giants are left with a group of young inexperienced running backs. Combined, the backups have a total of 88 carries. One of those backs will have to share the workload with Bradshaw. There is no way an injury prone player like him can finish a full season with 300 or more carries.
Hit or miss: The Offensive line. The offensive line is going to be a question mark throughout the season and could hold this team back. If the line blocks better and can open up holes, there is no need to worry about the running game. The running game ranked dead last last season partially because of the line. If the line can dominate and be physical, this running back group can be efficient and effective.
About the Author
Written by Matthew Stapleton
Ridgewood, New Jersey