David Wilson Key To Rejuvenating The Giants Ground Game
The New York Giants will head into the 2013 season hoping to see some kind of improvement in their running game. Last season's rushing totals of 1,862 yards were good enough to land them almost directly in the middle of the pack in the NFL, ranking 14th in yards per game on the ground. Sure, it was a significant improvement over 2011's paltry rushing totals that landed them dead last in the league, but it was nowhere near their heyday during the Tiki Barber era when the team was regularly surpassing the 2,000-yard mark on the ground each year.
Now the Giants hope that fresh faces in the backfield will help to reinvigorate a run game that's on life support. One of those fresh faces, second-year running back David Wilson, is the man who Giants fans hope will be the savior for not only the running game, but the offense as a whole with his speed, quickness and big-play ability.
A lot of the decreased production in the run game over the last few years can be blamed on inconsistent run-blocking from an offensive line that has had its parts moved around quite a bit in the last few seasons, but not all of the blame can be placed there. Some of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs: two former Giants running backs that simply couldn't recapture the momentum that helped carry them to two Super Bowl titles.
Over the past few years the Giants' run game has looked uninspired, to say the least, and, above all, just tired. Bradshaw played through what seemed like a constant string of foot injuries and, at times, it appeared as if he was running on tiny pieces of broken glass. His ability to hit the holes and accelerate in the open field had all but vanished, and the one thing that set the Giants apart from everyone else in the Tiki Barber era—the screen pass—was virtually gone. It was almost as if Kevin Gilbride had ripped all of the pages containing any semblance of a screen pass straight out of the playbook and threw them in a bonfire.
Having a pass-catching running back was something that the Giants perhaps took for granted before Tiki Barber retired—and subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth, at least in the minds of Giants fans—and now it's something that is sorely missed in their offense. It's a weapon that is close to impossible to defend, if employed correctly, and it's something that the Giants need to get back to doing.
Wilson has proven that, with a little work, he can eventually be that weapon for the Giants: someone who can take a five-yard pass from Manning as the pocket is collapsing around him and turn it into a 45-yard gain at a pivotal moment. And that's what the Giants expect out of Wilson. Not necessarily right off the bat but, eventually, as he continues to get more reps at the NFL level. The Giants and their fans hope that David Wilson can be the type of explosive running back that can take over games and create an instantaneous momentum shift when the team needs it.
While 2013 will only be his second season in the league, it's safe to say that the Giants are counting on him now, more than ever, after the last piece of their Super Bowl backfield departed last month. The 2013 season is the beginning of a brand new era for the New York Giants' run game and, by the looks of it, it should be a successful era as long as Wilson can keep both feet on the ground at all times and try to refrain from doing any backflips.