NFL running backs have a short career. An average career lasts less than three years. As the National Football League has seen the passing game demonstratively become the foundation of most offenses, the value or premium on running backs has been minimized.
However, being a championship caliber team still requires a solid rushing attack to keep defenses honest and buttress the passing game. The Giants, with aspirations of elevating themselves to that level again after failing to make the playoffs last season, cannot make the claim with certainty that their running game is capable of providing the requisite offensive balance. It is in transition for sure.
During their Super Bowl winning seasons of 2007-08 and 2010-11, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw formed the nucleus of highly productive Giants ground assaults behind punishing offensive lines. All that’s left of those days are memories. Jacobs is currently an unsigned free agent after playing in only two games for the San Francisco 49ers last season. Bradshaw was not in the Giants’ plans for the future following a 2012 campaign in which he rushed for 1,015 yards and scored six touchdowns.
Such is life for a running back that is considered past his prime at the age of 27. The Giants now look to 22-year-old David Wilson, their first-round pick from a year ago, as well as 26-year-old Andre Brown, a relatively unknown four-year pro, to efficiently move the chains for quarterback Eli Manning and the offense. As the Giants engage in Week 2 of training camp, head coach Tom Coughlin has yet to name a starter.
“Regardless of who’s in there, we’ve just got to all prepare, mentally and physically,” said Wilson, whose spectacular prowess as a rookie kick returner earned him second-team All-Pro honors. “What I said before, I want to come in and have the chance to be the starting tailback for the New York Giants and … have an effect on the game in a positive way.”
The Giants finished 14th in the league in rushing last season with 1,862. Combined, Wilson and Brown had 144 carries for 743 yards.