While the New York Giants have needs to address in the 2013 NFL Draft, one position where the team seems to be in great shape is at running back. With Andre Brown signing his one-year restricted free agent tender on Tuesday, the Giants now have both Brown and David Wilson returning for the 2013 season.
Although Wilson seems to be the favorite to start in September, Brown put up notable numbers before a season-ending injury in late November 2012, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Additionally, in games where Brown had 10 carries or more, the Giants went 3-0, outscoring opponents by a total of 64 points. By comparison, in games where Brown ran the ball between one and nine times, the Giants were 2-3 and were outscored by a total of 15 points.
While Brown has shown he can hit holes hard, perhaps even more impressive than his strong running style are his aspirations for 2013.
“Third down back, pass protection, goal line, short yardage- all that,” said Brown, with respect to where he believes he can contribute in 2013. He also aims to “outdo last year’s stats,” targeting 1300 yards and 22 touchdowns as a “steppingstone.”
Despite Brown’s intentions to handle the bulk of the workload, second-year David Wilson had a rookie year impressive as any. His 1,925 all-purpose yards were the most in franchise history by a rookie, and his 1,533 kickoff return yards led the NFL by nearly 300.
Aside from his special teams skills, Brown showed his abilities at running back in the last four games of the year, rushing for 5.75 yards per carry and 3 TDs. As long as he can protect the quarterback, Wilson, 21, has endless potential backed by his blazing speed and ability to break out a big play at any moment.
While the Giants have consistently split carries between two running backs since the Tiki Barber days, the team’s offensive play calls between passing and running has varied wildly from year to year.
Since 2006, the Giants have had a run percentage of 45% or higher four times and made the playoffs three of those years. At the same time, in the three years with a run percentage of less than 45%, the Giants have made the playoffs just once.
That’s not to say the Giants should run the ball significantly more this year than in the past. The Giants have thrown the ball 60% and 58% of the time in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and Eli Manning may throw the ball more than ever this year with so many dynamic receivers.
With a developed passing game, Brown and Wilson will get plenty of opportunities to run the ball. And if both of them can put up the kind of production we saw glimpses of in 2012, you can expect a balanced game plan and smooth sailing from the Giants offense in 2013.