Can the New York Giants Running Game Return to Greatness?
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (28) is tackled by Washington Redskins linebacker Will Compton (51) during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw back in 2012. It’s time for them to amp up the running game again.

Who was the last New York Giants running back to rush over 1,000 yards?

Ahmad Bradshaw, in 2012. Back then Victor Cruz was the team’s leading receiver as well. Not to mention that Martellus Bennett was the team’s starting tight end.

This brings us to the 2017 season, the starter at running back as proclaimed by head coach Ben McAdoo is Paul Perkins.

Jerry Reese and the Giant’s front office have demonstrated plenty of faith in Perkins. After all, they would not cut incumbent starting running back, Rashad Jennings, for nothing.

The former UCLA running back is coming off of an impressive rookie campaign. In his first year in the NFL he picked up 456 yards on the ground while averaging 4.1 attempts. He was also a factor in the passing game. But there are two stats from his rookie year that are truly eye opening.

Paul Perkins has yet to score a touchdown in the NFL. He has not hit paydirt in the receiving game or the running game. Which is kind of rare for a guy that touched the football 127 times last season.

He is also a very good pass blocking running back. Check out this stat below.

Although these stats may seem as an upgrade over Rashad Jennings, Jennings was actually the top pass blocking running back in the NFL last season according to PFF.

When drafted out of UCLA with a fifth round selection, hopes were high that he would be a late round steal. So far he has exceeded these expectations and should be on pace for over 1,000 rushing yards in 2017 granted that he remains healthy.

The biggest question since 2012 has not been the running backs, but the offensive line. In the recent past, the running backs have seldom had the space to be able to be an effective option on the ground.

Jerry Reese has realized this and invested heavily in the line through the draft.

Although the results may have not shown up quite yet in pass blocking, the Giants are set to have one of the better offensive lines in terms of run blocking according to PFF. Three of the expected starting offensive linemen have a run blocking grade of over 70. Which is pretty solid for the Giants expectations.

Behind Paul Perkins, the Giants have one of the best supporting casts in years. The projected backups for the Giants are Wayne Gallman, Shane Vereen, and perhaps Orleans Darkwa.

Sep 18, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Shane Vereen (34) runs with the ball during the first half of their game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

After going most of last season without Shane Vereen, quarterback Eli Manning, understandably struggled.

In his first season with Manning, Vereen had 59 catches for 495 yards. He provided a secure safety net for Manning to dump the ball off to when his offensive line faltered. Which was often in the passing game.

With the return of a healthy Shane Vereen, the receiving portion of the backfield will once again be complete. That is not to say that Paul Perkins is not an effective option in the passing game. After all, he was able to take a screen pass 67 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. He also had 15 catches to go along with his electrifying play.

While Perkins will be the starter, and Vereen will probably be brought in on third downs, the Giants still drafted Wayne Gallman out of Clemson with their fourth round selection.

Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Wayne Gallman (9) runs with the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After looking over the backs on the roster, it is clear the role that Gallman will play. He would fit right in as a thumping runningback needed in short yard situations. In the past few years the Giants have tried to shy away from having a running back like that on the roster. As a result they struggled in short yardage situations and in the redzone.

In fact, Big Blue was the 22nd best team in terms of scoring touchdowns while in the red zone with a 51.1% conversion rate.

With the addition of the six foot tall 215 lb running back, the G-Men should have some more success in red zone and short yardage situations.

With these three running backs and an offensive line that is average in run blocking, it would not be a surprise for the Giants to return to dominance in the ground game.

John is a 16 year old highschooler who is an avid sports fan. His favorite sports are football, baseball, and basketball.