Perhaps there is an underutilized youthful piece that can revitalize what has been a miserable 2016 New York Giants offensive unit.
The New York Giants head into their bye week at 4-3, a respectable mark for a team that has not had a winning record since 2011. However, despite the winning record through seven games, there are plenty of issues that first-year head coach Ben McAdoo has to address if his team is to stand a chance in a suddenly competitive division.
Perhaps the most prevailing issue facing the Giants is their lack of balance on offense. In the lead up to the regular season, New York’s offense was receiving plaudits as a potential juggernaut, and for good reason: back-to-back career years from Eli Manning and a legitimate three-headed monster at wide receiver led many to believe that McAdoo’s team would march out one of the finest units in the NFC.
This hasn’t necessarily come to fruition, and for a multitude of reasons. Manning has had some rough games — in particular, his two game stretch at Minnesota and Green Bay saw him complete just 53.5 percent of his passes for 460 yards. If the Giants expect to contend this year, Manning has to do better against top quality competition.
However, it is quite clear that the Giants running game, or lack thereof, is a serious issue, and one that is certainly derailing the team’s success.
As you can see, New York has rushed for under 50 yards (three times) more than it has rushed for over 100 (twice). That simply isn’t good enough.
Simply put, if you don’t have a strong running back, or a strong offensive line, your run game will suffer. It isn’t rocket science.
Additionally, if your run game suffers, so will your team. If your run game is strong, your team will benefit.
Look at the Cowboys, who have invested four first-round picks in the past half-decade on their run game (offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin; running back Ezekiel Elliot). They have the best offensive line in the league, they have the NFL’s leading rusher, and they currently hold the top seed in the NFC despite starting quarterback Tony Romo playing a grand total of zero snaps thus far due to injury.
The Giants need to try something to invigorate their run game. Perhaps they simply need to run the ball more — New York is averaging 21 rushes per game, which is the third lowest total in the NFL. Or, maybe they need to try out a new running back.
The logical choice would be this year’s fifth-round pick, Paul Perkins.
Perkins only has 10 rushes and six receptions this season, but showed flashes of potential with his 67-yard reception against the Minnesota Vikings.
That screen showed Perkins’ elusiveness and speed in the open field, which begs the question: Why on earth is he not getting more touches?
Perkins had a phenomenal senior year, rushing for 1,343 yards (fourth in the Pac-12), and averaging 121.9 all-purpose yards (sixth in the Pac-12). According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Perkins’ combined his elite vision, strong open field moves, reliable hands, and good decisiveness in between the tackles into a very productive collegiate career. He could potentially do the same in New York, if given the opportunity.
The 21-year-old showed flashes of ability in the Minnesota game, and has been given slightly more field time in recent weeks. In particular, he played 15 snaps against the Rams on Sunday, the second highest total among Giants running backs.
Maybe he won’t take the NFL by storm, but the Giants could do a lot worse than giving Perkins some carries and seeing what he is capable of. If they continue, however, to neglect the running game, their winning record could evaporate rather quickly.