Articles

I’m Sorry Wilson: Where’s Hillis?

Despite Rashad Jennings looking marginally better Week 2 than he did in Week 1, the Giants running game, still lacks some serious punch, as evidenced by their -37.0% DVOA, as calculated by Football Outsiders.

This is heavily influenced by the outright failure that Andre Williams has been as a change-of-pace back. He rushed eight times on Sunday for 12 yards, he also caught two passes, which is something, considering that he’s known to have hands of stone.

Watching Williams constantly take a handoff and plunge directly into the arms of an awaiting tackler was equal parts frustrating and maddening.

So with Williams floundering, naturally, the Giants turned to Peyton Hillis, the third running back on the depth chart as an alternative, right? Wrong. For the second consecutive week, Hillis garnered exactly zero offensive snaps.

What is the possible explanation for this? Hillis could not possibly be worse than Williams has been, as a matter of fact, he would have to try to worse.

Hillis can catch passes, is serviceable in pass protection, and actually has a track record of being able to gain yards on the ground, something Williams has yet to show at the NFL level.

I don’t know whether this is a Tom Coughlin decision or a Ben McAdoo one, but for crying out loud, whatever Hillis did to get benched must’ve been really bad, because there is no other logical reasoning for him not to see a single snap through two weeks of the season.

In case you were wondering, here are the updated stats for Giants running backs through two weeks this season:

  Rushes Yards EYAR TDs DVOA
Rashad Jennings 34 110 129 1 -7.2%
Andre Williams 13 21 -2 0 -63.5%
Peyton Hillis 0 0 N/A 0 N/A
Team RB Totals 47 131 127 1 -37.0%

Explanations of the advanced statistics can be found at www.footballoutsiders.com.

That is not the kind of production that the Giants were getting from their running backs during their formidable contending years of the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning era from 2005-2011.

With Manning being what he has shown to be of the last year-plus-two-games, there is no way the Giants can expect to contend for a playoff spot without greater production on the ground. We saw some steps forward from Jennings on Sunday, but the Giants cannot run with him alone. To create a better attack on the ground, they need a productive backup runner, and Williams is not that.

This by no means means that I’m guaranteeing that Hillis is the answer to bringing up the overall level of production in the backfield, but if he’s taking up a roster spot, you might as well utilize him – and not only because he has thrived in the past.

If he’s not the answer, the Giants can figure it out from there, but Williams is not getting the job done, and should not be shouldering the workload that he’s inexplicably getting.

Joe Vasile | Featured Columnist

Joe Vasile is a play-by-play announcer residing in Paramus, NJ. He is the voice of Wilkes University football and basketball for ESPN Radio in Williamsport, PA. He is the 2014 Coastal Plain League Broadcaster of the Year with the Fayetteville SwampDogs.