Only three short years ago Peyton Hillis had developed into a budding NFL star; from absolutely out of left field. He rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010-2011, and the former Arkansas fullback found himself as the cover athlete on Madden ’12 – “It was a million to one shot, doc, million to one”. He had become a mythical figure, particularly in fantasy circles, but his style of success was unsustainable. Following a failed one-year stay in Kansas City, he was cut by Tampa Bay in the preseason. Hillis stumbled from the top of the heap to coaching high school football in Tennessee in rapid fire time. Then the Giants came calling…
With Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), David Wilson (Neck) and Andre Brown (leg) all unable to suit up, Hillis was immediately called upon to split carries with rookie Michael Cox. Cox, who looked like he was auditioning for Dancing with the Stars, played himself out of the competition for snaps the rest of the way. For at least the foreseeable future, it appears that Hillis is here to stay.
In week 7, Hillis was highly serviceable as a receiver out of the backfield, hauling in five of six targets for 45 yards and three first-downs. As he is one to do, Hillis was a battering ram behind a head of steam, looking to run over anyone and everyone in his path.
He found next to no success on the ground, carrying the rock 18 times for 36 yards with a long run of eight yards. On more than a few occasions the Giants O-line opened up holes for Hillis, but he chose to run directly into the one defender he needed to beat. If he’s one on one with a linebacker or safety in space, he’s going to lose. No speed, no quickness, and certainly no shake & bake.
Hillis knows the system, he’s secure in pass protection, and he can be a security blanket for Manning; but let’s be real, Hillis can’t play. He’s 27-years old and has taken an obscene number of hits – self-inflicted damage (and he’s surely dished out a whole lot of pain as well). Trying to bowl over every defender is not a reasonable plan of action when your legs are partially gone. This experiment will be short-lived, either as a result of injury or flat-out lack of talent. Hillis was out of the league for a reason. His tank is on empty. To quote our own James Pennisi, “he has a refrigerator strapped to his back”.