Tom Coughlin said part of the Giants’ plan against Cincinnati last Sunday was to get rookie David Wilson more involved.
But the game got out of hand and Wilson ended up seeing just one carry.
As the Giants enter their final six games, Wilson remains a largely unknown commodity. He is one of the fastest and most elusive players on the roster. But the coaching staff is reluctant to use the first round draft pick and running backs coach Jerald Ingram explained why earlier this week.
“To be a complete running back in the NFL, the difference between college and the NFL is it’s so complicated, the things that the defense is doing,” Ingram said. “The blitz packages, within the pass game, you have to be extremely knowledgeable. You either have that base behind you in college, or you didn’t. If you didn’t have that base in college, well, you have to learn it here. You’re playing catch-up a lot.”
Both Ingram and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride explained that Wilson didn’t have to do much at Virginia Tech other than run and make plays.
But with the Giants, Wilson has to handle more responsibilities including how to protect Eli Manning.
“Certain things are asked based upon the college offense that he comes from, but when you look at David, he was basically asked to be a runner, and not do much else,” Gilbride said. “At the National Football League, you’re going to have to do a lot of other things because when people line up in certain defensive structures, even if you call the run, you’re going to check out and go to a pass.
“You have to feel good that he’ll know what to do and be able to solve that problem so that you can continue to function as a unit,” Gilbride continued. “That’s all it is. You’re a member of a unit and they’re going to be asked to do a lot of different things beside just carry the ball.”
Ingram also points out that Wilson’s 5-9 stature plays a role in what the coaching staff feels Wilson is and isn’t ready for.
“You’re also playing against linebackers that are between 230-250 pounds,” Ingram said. “There’s certain things that you have to learn how to do to make a difference in your size. There is a mismatch. What are you going to do with that mismatch? Ahmad Bradshaw is not afraid of that mismatch. He also knows how to play within himself and that mismatch. That’s where the young guys have to learn.”
Of course, many want to see what Wilson can do when given the opportunity. The league has gotten a glimpse of what fellow first-round pick Doug Martin can do in Tampa Bay.
“You can understand, Doug Martin was in a pro-style type offense,” Ingram said of the former Boise State running back. “We don’t like to compare their offense and our offense, but Doug Martin is a bigger guy. That’s a guy who was in an offense that was taught to do a lot of things that the NFL teams are doing.
“David was on a team that was taught basically to give him the ball and be explosive and be a great runner,” Ingram said. “It’s apples and oranges right now. It’ll come in time. We don’t think David is afraid of anything, it’s just him learning the offense, being comfortable, being physical, being tough. Those kinds of things.”
Wilson has remained patient. Perhaps the Giants will figure out a way during the bye week to sprinkle the speedy rookie into the game plan more. But they want him to continue to develop and learn.
“Just because you’re a first-round draft pick doesn’t mean you’re ready to play, or they all would be great,” said Ingram, who pointed out that Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw had to wait before they played consistently. “He is a situational player as a rookie right now. Yeah he’s explosive, but at what cost is he explosive? Is he explosive at the cost of not being able to protect well, not being able to know his job well enough being a pro? That all has to develop.”
“[The Giants drafted him because] he was exciting and explosive, because he has that running ability, because he can go the distance. He has a lot of positives about him, but learning and trusting is a whole other thing with a rookie. It’s not a second-year player right now, he’s a rookie.”