Sep 25, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants running back Andre Williams (44) carries the ball as Washington Redskins inside linebacker Keenan Robinson (52) and Redskins inside linebacker Perry Riley (56) attempt the tackle in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Giants won 45-14. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
When running back Rashad Jennings left last week’s game versus the Atlanta Falcons with what was later diagnosed as a sprained MCL, it was the rookie Andre Williams who has shown flashes of pure potential this pre-season stepping up for the New York Giants. Williams used his 5’11, 230lb frame to power through the line of scrimmage totaling 20 carries for 65 yards as well as adding 2 catches for 18 yards. He showed great ability to not only make defenders miss with his agility, but he showed that there would be no easy way to bring him down by bowling over defenders left and right.
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It is hard to put a label on the young tailback because he has the size and strength to break tackles and be a north to south runner. Williams also has great speed and agility by being able to cut on a dime and turn the corner on outside runs with a great burst of speed that very few running backs of his size have. A key to him getting the start this week over veteran Peyton Hillis is his ability to pass protect, a skill that is highly valued by head coach Tom Coughlin. According to PFF, Williams has not allowed a single quarterback hurry on 13 pass blocking chances. His seemingly only flaw is that he hasn’t shown yet that he can be a threat catching passes out of the backfield, which Jennings excelled in.
Tomorrow night Williams and the rest of his team will travel to Philadelphia to take on their arch rival Eagles to cap off a week so full of trash talk that it has caught the attention of even the most casual football fans. The Eagles come into tomorrow’s game with question marks at the inside linebacker position having already ruled out Mychal Kendricks with a calf injury, leaving Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho to continue to try to fill the void.
Fellow inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans is listed as a game-time decision with a groin injury. If Ryans is also ruled out, it will give Williams and a Giants offensive line that has been outstanding over the G-Men’s three game winning streak to exploit the inexperienced Eagles linebacking corps and open up some holes for the running game. This will prove to be pivotal for the Giants to control the tempo of the game.
With the Giants’ gameplan majorly being to give Williams 20-25 carries against the Eagles, it’s a start to help exploit a clear defensive weakness. The Eagles have been so porous against the running game, that they have allowed an average of 132 rushing yards per game thus far. The opportunity is there for Williams to make a name for himself and have a breakout game tomorrow night as long as the Giants don’t stray from their plan to feed Williams a healthy dose of carries.
The key to that is whether Williams can snag a couple of catches out of the backfield and if he can keep up his stellar pass protection. If he can execute those two tasks, then expect Williams to wind up with around 100 rushing yards with a touchdown or two. If he cannot show he can do those tasks or if he commits what Coughlin considers a cardinal sin and fumble the football, then expect a night on the bench for the young tailback and the load will be carried by Hillis instead.
Bottom line for Williams is that it is now his moment and he must continue his strong play as of late and take advantage of this golden opportunity against a mediocre Eagles’ defense. It will firmly establish himself as a permanent part of a Giants’ offense that has seemingly found its identity going forward.