Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has always been a bit draconian when handling rookie players. That becomes even more so when they make detrimental mistakes in their first series of regular season action. It takes a lot of work to earn Coughlin’s trust, but when you do, he’ll put the entire game on your shoulders and feel comfortable knowing you can handle it.
As of now, Coughlin does not believe Wilson can handle the task at hand, but the rookie running back will improve with time and should garner his trust in no time.
Though running the football in the NFL appears to have become a lost art for the time being, the Giants continue to feature one of the most well-balanced offensive attacks in the league today. The ground game is essential to the offense’s success and grants Eli Manning greater opportunities when passing the football. Ahmad Bradshaw appears to be the guy right now, but Wilson has the makeup to be an every-down back and overtake him for the job.
Wilson posted 1,709 rushing yards with nine touchdowns for 5.9 yards per carry. He did so as a first-year starter against a schedule featuring tough ACC matchups and a meeting with three of the nation’s top 24 run defenses (Florida State, North Carolina and Arkansas State). Wilson’s production was a positive sign heading into the 2012 NFL draft, but production does not always indicate a surefire superstar in the NFL.
The Giants’ first-rounder is blessed with a lethal combination of blitzing speed and an underrated ability breaking tackles that few boast in the NFL today. The lack of wear and tear placed on him during his time at Virginia Tech—he carried the football just 462 times in three seasons—could enable him to have a lengthy NFL career. Unfortunately, much like a Giants great by the name of Tiki Barber, Wilson will first need to overcome his penchant for fumbling the football.
“[Wilson] carries the ball high at times and the ball can get knocked out of his arms.”
It’s evident that, much like Barber, Wilson’s struggles boil down to technique. If anyone can fix Wilson’s faulty technique, it’s Tom Coughlin. Just ask the guy who keeps getting a mention in this article—yes, Tiki Barber.
Tom Coughlin is responsible for helping Barber evolve into the elite rusher he became in the latter part of his 10-year career, tinkering with the way he carried the football to cut down on his mass amount of fumbles—Barber went from averaging eight fumbles a year between 2000 and 2004 to just one in 2005. If Coughlin could work the same magic with Wilson, the 21-year-old rusher could develop into one of the league’s best backs.
Wilson certainly has the potential to be such a player for the Giants and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from his disappointing season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. For now, he must focus on improving his ability carrying the football, getting out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse, and the rest will come with time.