Is a Good Run Game Necessary for New York Giants?

By Jay Cullen
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants used to be all about the run.

In 2007, the Giants used a relatively strong running game to get them through the playoffs and then rode a top run offense in 2008 to go 12-4. Both seasons heavily featured Brandon Jacobs, a back who consistently averaged over five yards a carry.

How things change.

By 2011 the Giants had the worst run offense in the NFL. Strangely enough, it did not hurt them much. With the worst running offense, they still won the Super Bowl behind Eli Manning, who threw for 5,000 yards. It was a complete flip in three years, yet the success continued.

The Giants once again have struggled running the ball, and many point to that as a major reason for their slow start. It certainly hasn’t helped, and the Giants have scrambled to find a productive running back that can hold onto the football. However, in the modern NFL the Giants don’t actually need a strong running game to dig themselves out of this hole.

Last year, few teams really relied on a run game to carry them. Adrian Peterson was the exception to the rule, but he had an all-time great season and is basically an anomaly (Arian Foster also played a big part in his offense, but only averaged 4.1 yards a carry, so the team was not as dependent on him as with Peterson). On the flip side, top quarterbacks almost always drive offensive success nowadays. Having a top quarterback and having a top offense are synonymous, which is simply not true of running backs (evidenced by LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, and Doug Martin last year).

The Giants have a lot of things to improve. Pass protection, turnovers, and pressuring opposing quarterbacks just to name a few. Perhaps surprising to many, those goals are far and away more important than establishing a run game. The Giants would certainly be better with a top run offense, but the reason for their current struggles has much more to do with pass protection and turnovers than it does an anemic run game.

Jay Cullen is a New York Giants writer for Like him on Facebook or add him on Google.

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