He scored, he flipped and he sat out the rest of the game.
In a series of events indicative of the New York Giants fortunes in 2013, their much-maligned no. 1 running back David Wilson finally registered his first touchdown of the season in the opening drive against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Wilson unleashed his double back-flip celebration, only for that to seem pretty fruitless as he was forced to leave the game before halftime with a neck injury.
Needless to say, the run game diminished following his exit and so did the fortunes of the Giants, who led only once more in the game following the opening series.
Wilson has officially been ruled out of the Thursday Night Football trip to the Chicago Bears by coach Tom Coughlin. It may seem a little harsh, but this could be a blessing in disguise for the Giants. It would appear on face value to be a wild suggestion especially for a team that has used the run game as a foundation for success in the past decade but how about the G-Men just abandon their ground attack altogether?
The Giants rank dead last in the NFL on the ground with a somber 56.8 yards per game. The Bears rank 13th overall against the run, suggesting that ground success would be difficult even for a team with a competent run game. Losing the rush would be one less problem for what is a calamitous offense that appears to be confusing itself on occasion and that leads the league in turnovers.
The Giants unsurprisingly also lead the NFL in points allowed following a turnover, so stripping this offense down and simplifying it may be just the ticket.
Big Blue are gaining very little from their ground game anyway. Aside from propping up the rest of the pack in terms of average yards per game, they have just two rushing touchdowns all season, have yet to total over 100 net rushing yards in a game. Meanwhile, half of their lost fumbles this season have come from running backs (two from Wilson and another from Brandon Jacobs).
Jacobs was brought back in a feel-good story that lasted about 24 hours, and Da’Rel Scott was handed his first start and then swiftly cut from the team in a eyebrow-raising decision. With Wilson missing and arguably the Giants’ most competent back Andre Brown still in recovery, they are now left with the uninspiring Jacobs and rookie Michael Cox as their only two viable options on the ground.
By all accounts, the trip to Chicago on this short week is a write-off anyway. Rumors have circulated about the possible benching of Eli Manning, though that remains highly unlikely. Of course, the Giants’ aerial game has its flaws; Eli leads the league in interceptions and half of the team’s lost fumble turnovers have been contributed by the quarterback or his receivers.
However, with damage limitation in mind against the Bears, there have also been plenty positives through the air. Manning remains among the top 10 quarterbacks for accumulative passing yardage while the Giants rank 10th overall in passing offense. The number of first downs gained via passing plays far outweighs those on the ground (63-16), while the touchdown ratio of pass-to-rush currently stands at 4:1.
In the event of Manning continuing his streak under center, the Giants should just play to their strengths in the passing game. For evidence, we should look no further than the previous game against the Eagles. Manning led the team up the field in the third quarter in the shotgun with very little choice to do anything but pass, and it was arguably the most competent spell of play fans have seen from the two-time Super Bowl MVP this season.
It’s not the first time we have seen this from Manning either. In recent years and including that famed Super Bowl-winning season 2011, Eli was at his most effective with his back against the wall, leading the team on late drives with continual passing plays.
The Bears currently rank 24th against the pass. Manning has topped 300 yards on three of five occasions this season. The Giants’ run game has been more of a hindrance than a help this season, and it’s best left in storage for Week 6.