The Giants did a whole heck of a lot wrong Sunday afternoon, resulting in their 37-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers (who by the way, just beat the Denver Broncos Thursday night), but you can’t really fault the efforts of Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis.
Brown rushed 16 times for 81 yards while Hillis contributed 11 yards and a goal-line touchdown on four carries. All told, the Giants gained 92 of their 333 total yards on the ground, and averaged 4.6 yards per rush.
Now the Chargers rushing defense came into that game with the worst rushing defense (and overall defense for that matter) in the NFL with a 13.3% DVOA, and so they should have had more success on the ground than they did.
Unlike at the beginning of the season, execution in the running game was not the problem: When the Giants running backs got the ball in their hands, they were successful, especially Brown. The issue was Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride not calling enough running plays.
I don’t mean to take unfair shots at Gilbride, but when you watch the game and look back at the stat sheet, Eli Manning clearly just didn’t have “it” on Sunday – with the exception of a few nice plays by Hakeem Nicks.
For the Giants to have the success that they were having in the running game, against the league’s worst running defense, to run the ball only 20 times is unfathomable.
To give him at least some of the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Manning audibled out of a few runs because he noticed something in the Chargers defense. But even so, that most likely didn’t happen often enough to make a big difference.
If the Giants are to even expect to hang with the Seattle Seahawks this week, they are going to need to run the ball early and often.
Between Manning’s struggles, the absolute dominance of the Seahawk defensive backfield, and the rather underwhelming by comparison Seahawk rushing defense, this could be a very long game if Big Blue doesn’t keep the ball on the ground.
To give you the numbers, Seattle’s pass defense checks in at a -27.3% DVOA, ahead of number two Buffalo by exactly 10 percentage points. Their run defense is good – but not great – at a -11.1% DVOA, 11th in the NFL.
By more traditional stats, the Seahawks have allowed only 175.6 yards per game through the air, and 111.5 ypg on the ground.
If the Giants end up passing the ball more times than they run the ball, they will likely lose.
Joe’s Prediction (for Brown):
Last Week’s Prediction: 15 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown
Actual Production: 16 carries, 81 yards, 0 touchdowns
Verdict: I had high expectations that weren’t met, but overall, still a pretty good week for Brown.
This Week: 22 carries, 85 yards, 0 touchdowns
Also, I would like to take this time to thank Brandon Jacobs for all he has done for the Giants franchise over the years. As most of you know, he was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve this week, and there has been speculation that his career may be over. If that is the case, he will always be remembered fondly by me.
Joe Vasile | Featured Columnist
Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs and host of “Ball Four” on WTSR in Trenton. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.