Contrary to what you may have heard, the New York Giants running game still has a pulse. It was on display Saturday against the New York Jets in the MetLife Bowl.
Saturday night, the New York Giants partook in their annual preseason matchup with the New York Jets. Despite nearly blowing a 26-point halftime lead, Big Blue prevailed, 32-31. Their running game was a big reason why.
After failing to play with any consistency in their first two preseason matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, Big Blue was able to sustain a ground game against Gang Green.
Projected starter Paul Perkins, who entered the game having rushed for 13 yards on 11 carries in the first two preseason contests, answered the call. While not headline worthy, his six carries for 33 yards was a drastic improvement.
His big run came in the first quarter. On second-and-15 from the Jets’ 45-yard line, Perkins broke through the defense for a first down.
He made some defenders miss, shed some tackles and showed some of the explosiveness he flashed last season. That’s an encouraging sign for a Giants team expected to put a lot of faith in him this season.
But Perkins wasn’t the only Giants back who showed up on Saturday night.
Rookie Wayne Gallman carried the ball 12 times for a team-high 43 yards, continuing to make a case that he deserves regular season reps in head coach Ben McAdoo’s West Coast system.
Meanwhile, three-year man Orleans Darkwa scored the team’s first offensive touchdown of the preseason, bursting through the defense for a one-yard score near the end of the first quarter. He finished the game with seven carries for 21 yards.
TOUCHDOWN! @OrleansDarkwa on a 1-yard touchdown run puts Big Blue up 19-0! #NYJvsNYG pic.twitter.com/Ab2xwMuHi5
— New York Giants (@Giants) August 26, 2017
Of course, the Giants run game—as is any other team’s—is heavily reliant on its offensive line, which blocked with more ease versus the Jets.
While Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart and John Jerry all have a long way to go in regards to becoming competent NFL linemen, the trio, as well as Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, held their own against the Jets defensive line.
Providing Eli Manning and company with just enough time to operate was no small feat for this group, which faced a Jets front seven that includes the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. That’s no walk in the park. The Giants O-Line bent, but didn’t break, which was impressive.
While it might just be the preseason, it was still an encouraging showing for the Giants. This offense isn’t going to succeed unless they can move the ball on the ground.
A reliable running game will only make things easier for Manning and his stellar receiving corp—Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, among others.
If the line can hold its own, as it did Saturday night, the Giants offense could finally break out. Considering that neither OBJ or Marshall played Saturday night, the performance was even more impressive. And it offers hope that they can carry that success on the ground into the regular season.