Should Wilson start?
Did I miss something? Did I fall asleep and wake up in Week 7 and David Wilson has fumbled five times already? For goodness' sake. The Giants' 22-year-old running back, who barely played last year, had a bad opening game and now we have to ask whether they can trust him to be their starter? Is there a rule in NFL analysis that says we're required to overreact?
The issue here is not one of expectations. The Giants didn't plan to hand Wilson a full starter's workload. They planned to use Andre Brown in pass-blocking situations while Wilson continued to learn and master the protection schemes at a reasonable pace. Wilson went into the opener with sky-high expectations because Brown got hurt and Wilson looked fantastic in camp. Runs like a dream. Even picked up a blitzing safety or two in preseason game action. Nothing wrong with the Giants throwing him in there Week 1 with more responsibility than they'd planned to give him. See whether he's ready.
Sunday showed that, in some key respects, he's not. And that's fine, because these are the Giants and they don't tend to ask one running back to carry the ball 300 times a year. These are the Giants, who had three different wide receivers crack 100 yards in their opener. Wilson has a role here because he's an ultra-skilled runner and an uncommon big-play threat. They can still deploy him that way and make him their leading ball carrier, while using Brandon Jacobs to pick up the blitz on third downs.
And fumbling problems can be fixed. We have seen it before, even with the Giants. They can train Wilson to run with both hands on the ball. It's not brain surgery. It's a matter of practice. And priority. And patience, which is a Giants hallmark. Wilson will be fine, possibly great, soon enough. All they need to do in the short term is make sure he has the right support system. Trust him with what he can handle, pull him back from and train him on what he can't, and keep the big picture in mind. Wilson will be fine.
He coughed it up twice Sunday night, giving him a combined three fumbles in two career season openers. Both were losses to the rival Dallas Cowboys.
With Eli Manning and his tremendous trio of receivers -- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle -- the Giants would be better off passing on the majority of their offensive downs. Quick screens to Cruz or swing passes to backup tailback Da'Rel Scott could serve like running plays until Wilson figures it out.
Giants safety Antrel Rolle said Wilson has to two choices: "He can either get in the tank or he can man up."
Derrick Ward, who rushed for 1,025 yards for the Giants in 2008, took to Twitter to diagnose Wilson's fumbling problem: "I see what his problem is. He's not using the 5 pressure points of the ball when he gets engaged with contact."
Tiki Barber was notorious for fumbling and finding himself in coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse until he began holding the ball high and tight. Barber told USA Today that Wilson needs to take the same approach and use his off hand to secure the ball. "He has to limit ball exposure before contact, not try to hold on afterward," Barber told USA Today.
The Giants likely won't get away from using Wilson because they don't usually like to take drastic measures. And with Andre Brown hurt, they don't have any better options. Ahmad Bradshaw, after all, is Indianapolis because the Giants thought Wilson was ready to be their featured back.
Still, it's a risky proposition, one that might burn them down the line.