One of the unsung heroes from the 2007 New York Giants was rookie running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Paul Perkins could be the 2016 version.
Manning, Burress, Strahan, Tuck, Pierce, Umenyiora, and others were the prominent names associated with the 2007 New York Giants. A dominant pass rush coupled with an offense that didn’t turn the ball over made for a Super Bowl formula. However, one of the lesser talked about contributors from the ’07 squad was rookie running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
The former seventh-round draft pick went on to have six successful seasons in New York, but his emergence as a rookie in ’07 provided the Giants with a spark out of the backfield. Bradshaw, whose coming out party came in week 16 at Buffalo (151 rush yards), compiled 235 total yards in the postseason on 52 touches.
Numbers simply didn’t tell the story with Bradshaw, though. It was the toughness and conviction that he ran with that provided energy to the offense.
Perkins has seen double-digit touches since week 14, and shouldn’t see his role reduced any time soon. Similar to week 17 in ’07, the Giants have already locked up the five seed in the NFC. However, Big Blue could give Perkins plenty of work to prepare for a larger role in January in Sunday’s affair at Washington.
Perkins doesn’t run with the same violence that Bradshaw did, but the comparisons between the two are too ironic too ignore. Both are rookies who were drafted late (Bradshaw in the seventh round, Perkins in the fifth), both didn’t emerge until late in the season, and both gave their offense a dimension they previously lacked.
The main advantage Bradshaw had was running behind a rock-solid offensive line. The Giants finished fourth in yards, yards per attempt and seventh in rushing touchdowns in ’07. Perkins doesn’t have the same luxury, but Justin Pugh‘s return at guard could boost a unit that has looked for rhythm all season.
Opposing defenses have deployed similar packages against the Giants throughout the season. The Giants often face coverages that keep both safeties back, protecting against deep throws to Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Sterling Sheppard, while daring the Giants to run the ball. Defenses also don’t often blitz the Giants given their quick pass approach.
The result? The Giants rank 29th in yards and 30th in yards per attempt. The team’s longest rush of the season is just 25 yards–lowest amongst all teams. However, there’s still reason for optimism.
The 2011 New York Giants ranked last in team rush yards, but finally found success on the ground in the playoffs, en route to another Lombardi Trophy. If this year’s team can find similar success, Perkins and the ground attack can give the offense the boost they’ve been searching for all season.