The New York Giants at the outset of the season decided that they would be running the ball by committee. Tom Coughlin would start Rashad Jennings for the first series then move on to Andre Williams and Shane Vereen. After no running back had a significant impact on the ground, Orleans Darkwa was added to the mix. The Giants didn’t have a 100+ yard rushing game until Week 7.
It wasn’t until Week 14 against the Miami Dolphins when Coughlin gave Jennings the ball 22 times that the Giants actually had a feature back. On Sunday against the Panthers, overshadowed by the Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman showdown, Jennings had 107 yards and a touchdown. So where was this production all year long?
The Giants never gave Jennings, or any other running back for that matter, the chance to get in a rhythm in a single game. Coughlin and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo were perhaps frightened off by Jennings’ injury history. He was in and out of the lineup last year and then-rookie Andre Williams was left with the bulk of the carries. Coughlin defended his use of the four-man rotation earlier this month.
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“We have four runners, and all four of them are healthy at this time of year. The running game has not been what we would like it to be. They contribute on special teams, and they do a lot of things. At this point in time, this is what we’re blessed with.”
The Giants shouldn’t have been so cautious with Jennings from the beginning of the season. We see now how effective Jennings could have been if he got the bulk of the carries. Even this past Sunday with injuries across the offensive line, Jennings was able to eclipse the 100 yard mark against the vaunted Panthers defense. Unfortunately, Coughlin’s usage of Jennings appears to be too little too late for the Giants who now have the slimmest of chances at a playoff berth.