David Wilson has been one of the most frustrating Giants this season and a symbol of their offensive futility in 2013. He also must be given every chance to succeed and fail for the rest of the year.
A nightmare first game that saw the Giants 2012 first round pick fumble twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown That has led Wilson to be jerked around for the past three weeks. receiving a grand total of 31 carries, while Da’Rel Scott and Brandon Jacobs each received 11. He has also received just a single carry on 3rd down with 1 or 2 yards to go.
This is partly due to the fact that the Giants have been blown out the last three weeks. However, it’s also indicative of the lack of trust the coaching staff has in Wilson.
There’s nothing wrong with having a running back-by-committee if everyone in the committee has the same range of talent. It makes little sense to use one when one of the three running backs is infinitely more talented than the other two.
Wilson has not exactly silenced his critics this year. He has 38 carries for 138 yards, and just two catches for four yards. His production in the first half of games has been even worse, as he has 24 carries for just 49 yards. Most alarmingly, he has struggled in pass protection, which was one of his biggest knocks coming out of Virginia Tech.
With the current set-up of the Giants, there is a greater deal of responsibility placed on Wilson this year. A sieve of an offensive line has made Eli Manning and the Giants formerly effective passing attack totally ineffective. it is imperative for the Giants to find an effective running game. That falls on Wilson.
Andre Brown isn’t eligible to return until Week 8 and it’s unclear what kind of production he’ll provide if he even does come back. Number two back Scott was waived this week, leaving Jacobs as the backup to Wilson. This wouldn’t be a problem if this were 2008, but in 2013, Jacobs is a running back who has no business being on an NFL roster, with 11 carries for 11 yards.
The most important thing to remember about Wilson is that he does have talent and he’s shown it in the NFL In 2012, Wilson had 71 carries for 358 yards (5.0 YPC). Two of his touchdown runs were 40 yards or more, and one of those came in the Giants 52-27 win over the Saints, in which he totaled 327 purpose yards (100 rush, 227 special teams). Even with his struggles this year, Wilson still has forced 11 missed tackles according to Pro Football Focus.
It would be foolish for the Giants to forget that because of his struggles in a quarter of an NFL season. Wilson is 22 and has only room to improve. One of the ways they could do this is through better play-calling.
A way to improve the Giants passing game and put less pressure on Eli would be more screens to Wilson. He has six career catches for 44 yards, and pass catching was never his strong suit in college, but he’ll never improve without experience.
Another step would be to change his usage. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson has 21 carries for 113 yards (5.4 YPC) when he has run between the tackles, but just 17 yards on 17 carries when running outside the tackles.
The Giants, at 0-4, have problems that lie well past their running backs and are probably past the point of salvaging their season. Yet, if they want any chance of being a total embarrassment for the rest of the year or to have a good team in 2014, they need Wilson to be productive and the best way of doing that is giving him the ball.