The running back position has been a consistent problem for the New York Giants for the past few seasons. With the team in desperate need of a quarterback, the wait for a star running back will certainly continue into next year.
The Giants played like one of the worst teams in the NFL all season, and their 3-13 record is indicative of just how terrible the team was on both sides of the ball. The Giants scored just 15.4 points per game, better than only the winless Cleveland Browns, and the defense allowed 373.2 yards per game, the second-worst mark in the league.
While both of these numbers represented significant declines in production from a year ago, a statistic that has remained near the bottom of the league for several seasons running is the team’s rushing yardage. The Giants were 26th in the league in rushing yards, one year after finishing 29th, and the team has not finished in the top half of the league in rushing yardage since 2012.
The inability to run the ball effectively became an even bigger issue this season due to the Giants’ various issues in the passing game. The team ran for just six touchdowns, fewer than the number of touchdowns that 13 different running backs ran for this season, and the 28 touchdowns the Giants scored was the third-worst total in the league.
The Giants entered this season confident that the running game would be at least competent, with Paul Perkins starting following a strong finish to the 2016 seasons, Shane Vereen providing options in the passing game, and rookie Wayne Gallman offering a change of pace. Instead, Perkins gained just 90 yards on the season while battling a back injury, Vereen failed to make much of an impact in either the running or passing game, and Gallman fumbled three times on just 111 carries.
The one positive to emerge from yet another abysmal season for the Giants’ running game was Orleans Darkwa. Despite collecting just 285 rushing yards over his first three seasons with the Giants, Darkwa broke out with 751 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns, including 154 yards during the team’s win against the Washington Redskins last Sunday.
Darkwa’s rather impressive numbers down the stretch will earn him increased playing time in 2018, as the Giants have no better options on the roster currently. Given his recent performances, it would seem that Darkwa has the skills necessary to play well and provide stability at the running back position.
Still, it will be hard for the Giants to pass up on improving their running game immediately by drafting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the 2018 draft. Barkley is arguably the best player in the draft, and adding him to an offense that can be incredibly explosive when healthy could potentially help bring the Giants back to winning ways.
The Giants will undoubtedly go with a quarterback with the second pick rather than Barkley as the team looks to find Eli Manning’s successor. The combination of Darkwa, Gallman, and Vereen could work next season, but for now, it would appear the streak of seasons with poor rushing attacks will continue, at least for another year.
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