Whether it’s Remember Monday, Throwback Thursday, or Flashback Friday, any day is a good day to appreciate New York Giants lore. Reddit user chili_cheese_dogg pointed me to this video from YouTube user “john smith” is a compilation of all the rushing touchdowns scored by Giants running back Joe Morris in 1985. Why Joe Morris and why 1985?
Well, the 21 rushing touchdowns scored by Morris is a single season franchise record and also led the league that season, a season that had Super Bowl potential blown away at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears in January 1986. Joe’s 21 single season TDs on the ground in 1985 is tied for 6th all-time with the likes of Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes, Terry Allen, and Terrell Davis. The only other players from the ’80s in the top 10 of that category was John Riggins of the Washington Redskins.
With the First Pick
So, why do I bring this up? The 2016 New York Giants could learn a lesson from the 1985 New York Giants, who went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the NFC East based on losing a tiebreaker to the 10-6 Dallas Cowboys. The ’85 Giants were 18 points away from being 15-1 and 26 points away from an undefeated season. At 15-1, they win the NFC East and might have home-field advantage over Chicago. At 16-0, they’re the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish a regular season undefeated. Does this sound sort of familiar?
The 2015 New York Giants were 27 points away from going 13-3. While this past season’s Giants were definitely NOT the rushing juggernaut the ’85 Giants were, the running game showed signs of life in the final weeks. Rashad Jennings won the FedEx Ground Player of the Week for his efforts in the regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. The G-Men’s 1,609 total rushing yards ranked 18th in the league while their 5 rushing touchdowns ranked 29th overall. Many blamed the running back by committee approach, but we can all agree the inability to rush for touchdowns in the red zone and goal-to-go is a HUGE crux that will continue to derail Big Blue’s postseason hopes.
What can the 2016 New York Giants take away from this video? Mechanics. Fundamentals. Execution. There were a handful of touchdowns Morris scored that were the SAME EXACT PLAY. But, that play couldn’t be stopped thanks to the blocking of tight end Mark Bavaro, fullbacks Rob Johnson & Maurice Carthon and an offensive line that consisted of LT Brad Benson, LG Billy Ard, rookie center Bart Oates, RG Chris Godfrey, and RT Karl Nelson. It’s a crime that only Joe Morris was the sole Pro Bowler from that group.
The ’16 G-Men have a few of these players in place to be a rushing touchdown powerhouse like the ’85 unit: LT Ereck Flowers, G/T Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, running backs Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. But, they don’t have the fullback(s). They’re missing a couple run-blocking linemen. Their tight ends are not run blockers. I’m all for throwing the ball, but how many times have the Giants needed 3 or less yards and can’t pick it up?
The numbers are ugly…
NFL.com has a team stat for the offensive line called, “Rush Power“, which is the percentage of rushes on 3rd or 4th down with 2 or fewer yards to go that achieved a first down or TD. Also includes rushes on 1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal from the opponent’s 2-yard line or closer. The 2015 Giants O-Line was tied for next to last in the league in “rush power” to the left, tied for 5th to worst in “rush power” up the middle, and middle of the pack in “rush power” to the right. Those figures indicate RG Geoff Schwartz, John Jerry, and RT Marshall Newhouse performed better run-blocking then the three guys getting the most positive reviews: Flowers, Pugh, and Richburg.
The passing game got a revamp in 2014 with Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense. Now, the running game needs a facelift or better yet a “footlift”.