Giants need running game to get going for playoff push
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants’ running game has been somewhat of a four-headed monster this season.
The only problem is the monster hasn’t been very scary. Tame might be more accurate.
The weekly plan of alternating Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa just hasn’t worked.
Heading into Monday night’s game against the Dolphins (5-7) in Miami, the Giants rank 29th with an average of 88.1 yards. No individual runner has gained 100 yards in a contest, with Jennings having the best game with 63 yards against the Eagles. The team has gained at least 100 yards only twice and there have been just three rushes of 20 yards or more this season.
The struggle has many wondering whether coach Tom Coughlin should give one back the majority of snaps instead of spreading the carries out.
Coughlin scoffed at the idea that the four-back system was to blame.
“Believe me, I’d love to stand here and tell you that, ‘Yeah, that’s the reason we’re not making any yards running,’ ” Coughlin said Thursday. “But it’s not; it’s not. Now they’re not always doing the right thing or making the right cut, but that hasn’t been a major, major issue for us.”
To be honest, the line hasn’t opened many holes this season and the blocking at tight end and fullback has not been good enough.
“We have to go out there and do our jobs,” guard Justin Pugh said. “The running backs are going to make those guys miss and do what they have to do. We have to go out there and consistently open holes for them and allow them to have the right reads and mentality. We have to do a better job as an offensive line, and we will.”
What might help this week is facing the Dolphins, who rank 30th against the run, giving up an average of 134.8 yards.
“We just need to stay at it. That’s all,” Jennings said. “We have to gain some consistency. The backs with the ball in our hands, we need to figure out a way to get yards. It’s on us.”
Darkwa, who has gotten carries in the last six games after being a special teams player earlier in the season, said the running game has had its chances. It’s been a missed block here, failing to make a defender miss a tackle, or even a player tripping.
“As a unit there is a lot of meat on the bone that we feel we have been leaving out there,” Darkwa said. “We just have to clean those little things up. It only takes one run to boost that average.”
A good running game might be the difference for the offense, which has relied way too much on receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“We know we have to get the run game going,” Darkwa said. “It’s a competition within ourselves. We know we are a talented group. We just have to go out and show it.”
Center Weston Richburg knows some people blame the line, which also struggled establishing the run last season.
“We just have to keep going,” he said. “I can’t say what the deal is because I don’t know. I’m going to keep doing my job and that’s what every other guy on the line is going to do, keep blocking as hard and as long as we can. Hopefully, sooner or later things will happen for us.”
Williams said the failure hasn’t come from a lack of effort.
“I feel like we’re right on the precipice every game,” Williams said. “I mean in practice, as much as we rep these run plays and with the running backs that we have, we’re definitely capable of doing anything above and beyond the best running performances in the league. For one reason or another it doesn’t come together that way. But I don’t lose heart over it because I know what we’re working at won’t (stop).”
NOTES: LB Devon Kennard has had a walking boot on his right foot for more than a week. He originally hurt his hamstring but aggravated the foot against Washington when he was stepped on. Kennard and LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) did not practice Thursday. ... New long-snapper Dan Aiken practiced with the team for the first time. He was called by the Giants early Monday when it was determined Zak DeOssie will need surgery to repair a ligament injury in his wrist. ... TE Larry Donnell won’t need neck surgery. He also was placed on IR on Tuesday.
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