Friday, August 24, 2012

New York Giants: Running Game Taking On New Persona

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

The Age of Smash Mouth Football

The Big Buddy and Little Buddy Show Had a Great Run.

At this very moment, the Giants' feature back is doing what he normally does at this time of year.  He is healing from injuries and missing practice.  If not his feet or ankles, then you knew something else would afflict Ahmad Bradshaw.  It's always something with him.  Every season we all ask, how many games will Ahmad Bradshaw miss?  For he always misses at least a couple.  This season however, Big Buddy Brandon Jacobs isn't around to pick up Little Buddy's slack.  Brandon Jacobs now has his own knee issues to contend with in San Francisco.

This year's reason why Ahmad Bradshaw's training camp has been compromised?  He is nursing a hand injury suffered early in last week's game against the Jets.  The trauma was downgraded to just a bruise, and reports are Bradshaw is fine.  But Coach Coughlin already hinted he wanted rookie David Wilson, and returning vet, D.J. Ware, to get a lion's share of touches against the Chicago Bears this Friday night anyway.

Heading into the 2012 season, Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, and D.J. Ware, are all tasked with improving upon last year's running game, which ranked dead last in rushing yardage.  An Offensive Line thrust into transition by Jerry Reese was partly to blame.  After Jerry Reese cut Shaun O'Hara, and Rich Seubert last season, injuries and uncertainty dominated the left side.  Additionally, Center David Baas' initial integration into the line didn't go so smoothly either.  It took him all season to get right.  And he also suffered through a neck injury for a few weeks.  Baas played much better in the playoffs.  This season, Jerry Reese continued to flip the O-Line by parting ways with Right Tackle; Kareem McKenzie.

Another reason the Giants ranked last in the NFL in rushing was Brandon Jacobs was no longer the Brandon Jacobs of old.  While he did have his moments last season, it was pretty evident the Giants would not be bringing him back.  However, he wound up ending his New York Giants career in grand fashion.  After supplanting Tiki Barber as the Giants feature back, the big guy went on to help Big Blue win two Super Bowl Championships.  Along the way, he also became the organization's all-time rushing touchdowns leader.

Despite career long bi-pedal problems, Ahmad Bradshaw is now THE guy in the backfield.  The Big Buddy and Little Buddy's show had a great run.  That is officially the past now.  Rushing forward,  and quite understandably, Ahmad Bradshaw's durability is in question.  But when it comes to heart, there is none larger.  He's a gamer in every sense.  But how long can he stay on his feet this season?  We almost expect Ahmad to miss a few games.  Therefore, David Wilson will no doubt have a large role to play this season.  Whether the rookie fulfills his role adequately remains to be seen.  Friday night he'll get a chance to show what he can do.  Wilson will get an opportunity to run behind the starting O-Line for at least one half of football.  Many interested eyes will be on him, and perhaps none larger, than Tom Coughlin's.   D.J. Ware is already a known commodity.

Apparently, a team can be the worst rushing team in the NFL, and still win a Super Bowl.  Go figure.  But make no mistake, smash mouth football is not dead.  That style of football still owns credibility in today's modern Age of the Quarterbacks.  Somehow, Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride squeezed just enough out of last season's running game, and made it good enough; good enough for another Lombardi Trophy that is.

In the past, Kevin Gilbride's implementation of the running game often drew my ire.  I'm sure this season will be no different for me.  But the truth is, the Giants' running game will indeed take on a new persona this season, and old-time fans will have to adapt.  In terms of game planning, the Giants did their best rushing behind the right side of the line last season.  But to his credit, Kevin Gilbride maintained a strict balance between running left, middle, and right, regardless of clear statistical trends.  The Giants Offensive Coordinator has now helped orchestrate, not one, but two last minute Super Bowl winning drives.  So where the Giants running game is concerned, only the Offensive Coordinator knows where he's taking it.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


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