The New York Giants clearly had the wrong game plan for their backfield coming into this season. Second-year running back David Wilson was pegged as the starter and was going to share carries with Andre Brown. An injury to Brown in the preseason forced the Giants’ hand, but Brown later showed that he should have been the focus of the rushing attack from the beginning.
Brown missed the first eight games of the season with a fracture in his left leg. In his absence, Wilson handled the load … kind of. Wilson fumbled twice in the season opener and quickly found himself in Tom Coughlin‘s doghouse. He never fully regained his confidence, as he didn’t eclipse 55 rushing yards in a single game. Wilson hurt his neck against the Eagles in Week 5 and would not return to the field in 2013.
The Giants played mix-and-match over the next three weeks, using a combination of Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis and rookie Michael Cox. Each of them played pretty well, especially Hillis, who turned out to be a pleasant surprise in the power running game.
When Brown finally returned to the gridiron he made an instant impact. He rushed for over 300 yards in his first three games back and helped alleviate some pressure from the shoulders of a drowning Eli Manning. Although Brown slowed down towards the end of the year, he proved that he could be a feature back in this league.
The Giants need to re-sign Brown and make him the focus of their running game. Wilson should be used to change the pace, which will also allow him to return to special teams, where he made such a huge impact as a rookie.
Jacobs retired, which means New York should think about bringing back Hillis as well as Brown. Hillis is a very good blocker and a solid receiving option out of the backfield. He is also very hard to stop in short-yardage situations, as he picks up a full head of steam and always seems to fall forward.
The Giants will have a new look to their offense next season, as long-time offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride retired just a few days ago. Whoever, New York ends up hiring should have the right tools to run a successful offense. The Giants just better make sure that Andre Brown is one of those tools.