New York Giants: Will The Giants Have a Better Running Attack in 2017?
By Michael Stewart
In 2016, the Giants running attack was pretty non-existing as they ranked near the bottom of the league. With basically the same OL returning; can we expect this team to run the ball at least a little more effectively?
The Giants finished 29th in the league in 2016; which was magnified by predictable play calling. Much has been written during the off season and well after the draft that the Giants didn’t improve their OL enough to have a more competitive rushing attack. After reviewing the Giants personal in 2016 and the current roster, I’ve concluded that the Giants will have an improved running attack based on these 8 reasons listed below:
- No Rashad Jennings: RB Rashad Jennings ranked near the bottom of the league among RB’s in elusiveness; which basically means he was an easy target. Also, Jennings ranked near the bottom of the league among RB’s in yards gained after 1st contact as well.
- No Marshall Newhouse/Welcome D. J Fluker: Newhouse was atrocious in 2016 and with his departure to the Raiders, newly acquired OL D. J Fluker is an upgrade and will be given every opportunity to start at RT.
- Ereck Flowers in 2017: It’s been well documented that Flowers had a bad sophomore season for the Giants at LT. My premise is that he can only go up with his performance in 2017 and should improve enough to erase his miserable 2016 season.
- Weston Richburg, Justin Pugh and John Jerry: Richburg and Pugh graded well above average at their respected positions and Jerry was at least marginal in 2016. Expectations for all three should be at the very least equal to their 2016 performance and if so, the Giants will welcome it.
- Bobby Hart, Adam Bisnowaty (drafted Rd 6), Wheeler and Dunker (UDFA signings): The additions to these three along with Bobby Hart who showed a little improvement in 2016 will not only give the Giants more depth along the OL, but also give these OL a chance to shine and emerge as a solid OL for the Giants.
- Paul Perkins/A healthy Shane Vereen & rookie Wayne Gallman: 2nd year player Paul Perkins did give the Giants some life in the running game once he took over for Jennings near the end of the 2016 season, as the team average yards per carry increased. I expect this to continue into 2017 as Perkins showed quick bursts through the hole without hesitation and managed to make defenders miss at times; which Jennings had trouble with. A healthy Shane Vereen should be a very welcomed sight for the Giants in 2017. Vereen’s versatility will create problems for opposing teams and if Vereen can be the back he was in New England, the Giants running attack will improve. 4th round pick Wayne Gallman will showcase much needed running between the tackles and give the Giants much needed depth at the RB position.
- FB Rhett Ellison: The Giants abandoned the FB position in 2016 mostly due to injuries and it definitely was a missing element. Ellison is regarded as an excellent blocker and will instantly provide that added ingredient to the Giants running attack.
- The addition of WR Brandon Marshall and 1st round pick TE Evan Engram: The additions of these two receivers will have many opposing teams focusing on the pass. Marshall is not only an exceptional receiver, but he is also one of the best blocking WR in the NFL. Engram’s biggest asset will be his play making ability as blocking is not his primary role. Regardless; with these two on the field together, opposing teams will have a tough time matching up properly and will most certainly be looking for pass first.
Final Thoughts: The biggest challenge will be for HC Ben McAdoo and OC Mike Sullivan to properly utilizing these players without being a predictable team. If they can achieve that and you add in all the other intangibles into the 2017 running attack, there seems to be a small glimmer of hope that the Giants should at least improve just enough in their running game to make a difference. If they do, any improvement will provide the needed production to make the Giants offense a very difficult team to defend