I recently gave my report card for the Giants 2011 season position-by-position. But because there was only so much space to discuss each position, I wanted to go more in-depth on each position and spin it forward to next season.
Today we look at the running backs. Tomorrow: Wide receivers.
The Giants’ running game finished last in the NFL in rushing during the regular season but did show signs of coming on at the end of the season. Individually, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for a total of just two 100-yards rushing games this season. The two did combine for 16 rushing touchdowns in the regular season.
Bradshaw missed four games with a fractured foot and played through the final nine games on it. He has acknowledged that he will never feel 100-percent pain-free but he should at least be healthier by next season although he has had ankle and foot injuries throughout his career.
Jacobs remains a question mark since the Giants have to decide whether to pay a $500,000 roster bonus in March. Jacobs did say he’d be open to restructuring his contract for a second straight year if it’s fair.
If the Giants opt to go in a different direction, they have D.J. Ware, Da’Rel Scott and Andre Brown on the roster. Ware averaged 3.5 yards a carry but didn’t get many carries. He was used more as a receiver out of the backfield although those screen plays to Ware never seemed to go for big gains.
Scott has blazing speed (remember his fake-punt touchdown run in the preseason against New England?) and hopefully he’ll get a few more opportunities to show his potential this preseason.
Brown -- who famously gave us “I Got a Ring” -- has shown some potential during the preseason and his knee appears to be healthy.
Even with Scott and Brown on the roster, I still wouldn't mind seeing the Giants draft a running back in the latter rounds, especially if Jacobs does not return.
Henry Hynoski got better as his rookie season went on at fullback and should only continue to improve. TE Bear Pascoe also can play FB but he’ll likely be needed more at tight end with so many injuries to the position. Pascoe will be a restricted free agent but the team is expected to bring him back considering how many roles he can play on offense.
The blame for the Giants’ running woes lies with everyone involved in the running game. That means the offensive line must get better at run-blocking. Short-yardage situations often remained a problem. Too many times, Bradshaw and Jacobs would just run into their own blockers with no holes there. We’ll get into the offensive line more when its report card analysis comes up. But with a full offseason of workouts and a full training camp, the Giants should be able to improve somewhat on last year’s running game.
Tell us what your assessment is of the running backs below.