The problems affecting the New York Giants’ running game seems simple enough to define.
“If you look at the tape, six out of seven guys are making their blocks and are knocking people off the ball,” explained fullback Henry Hynoski. “It’s one mess-up that is hurting the play, and it’s different guys each time.”
The good news for the Giants’ struggling running game is that they believe they have turned the corner, starting with the ball security issues that plagued Wilson in Week 1 right down to the blocking assignment errors that were blatantly obvious last week.
“We make corrections and guys know what they got to do,” said Wilson. “It comes down to going out on the field and executing.”
It should also help the Giants that they’ll be going into this weekend’s game against the Carolina Panthers with the same offensive line two weeks in a row.
“That’s definitely a big factor,” Hynoski said. “When it comes to the running game, it’s all about cohesiveness. We’re really just getting our full group back together now, and if you look back to the preseason, it happened with the receivers too. We just need a little time for everyone to get back and worth together and get going.”
Through two weeks, the Giants’ have run the ball 33 times for 73 yards (2.2 yards per carry). The running game, historically the team’s bread-and-butter on offense, is sitting all by its lonesome at the bottom of the league rankings.
Of particular concern has been the number of runs that have gone for zero or negative yardage. In a study I did for the Bleacher Report, seven of the Giants’ 19 rushing attempts last week against the Broncos yielded zero or negative yards.
“That boils down to one breakdown in a particular area,” Hynoski said. “We just have to get everyone going at one time, and clean up those instances where one guy is coming free to turn the play into a negative.”
The good news according to the players, is that they believe that they’re so close to cleaning up all the issues, which in addition to mental errors includes subpar technique in executing the various blocks.
“We’re very close to getting that back on the roll,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “Obviously you’re playing against good defenses. They have good players and they’re going to make some plays sometimes, but I think we are close on a lot of them and we’ll get that going.”
Hynoski agreed with his quarterback.
“I know the stats weren’t good last week and the numbers show that we’re struggling, but we’re actually some real encouraging things in the run game,” he said.
“If you look at the film, six out of seven guys are making good blocks and blowing people off the ball and there’s just one breakdown and that’s the guy who’s making the play. If we can just clean that up and get the cohesiveness down, I think we’ll be set to do big things in that area.”
The reason for the optimism, according to the players, has been what they’ve been able to accomplish in practice so far this week.
“We had a good day at practice (Wednesday),” said Hynoski. “We were out there really grinding. It was a practice with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm, and all the guys were on the same page trying to get that down.”
The real test for the Giants, though, will be to transfer all of their progress made on the practice field to the playing field, especially if they want to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1996.
“I think up front we need to get back as an offense and start knocking folks off the ball, run or pass,”” said running back Brandon Jacobs. “Running backs can get up there and hit blitzers in their face and things like that –I think that’s what we have to get back to and, again, it starts in practice.”
“Obviously we know we’ve got to get going,” added Manning. “We’ve got to start playing better football now. We dug ourselves into a small hole, but there are 14 games left. It’s a long season. We’re still right in the mix in our division and we’ve just got to get back to playing better football than what we are right now.”