NY Giants’ Jason Garrett sees shades of Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith, Ezekiel Elliott in Wayne Gallman

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman (Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports) /

NY Giants running back Wayne Gallman drew high praise from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who compared Gallman to Ezekiel Elliott and Emmit Smith Thursday

NY Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has been around some elite running backs, as a former teammate of Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and coach of Cowboys All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott, but sees some similarities in the current back headlining his resurgent ground attack.

Wayne Gallman, finally getting an opportunity at the top of the NY Giants’ running back totem pole enters Sunday’s clash with the Seattle Seahawks averaging four yards per carry with six touchdowns and riding a five game touchdown streak, after Saquon Barkley was lost for the season with a torn ACL and Devonta Freeman landed on injured reserve last month.

It’s Gallman’s physical, downhill running style that has powered the Giants’ running game in three consecutive wins over the Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cincinnati Bengals. It’s also what’s triggered some de-ja-vu for Garrett.

“I was fortunate to be on a Cowboy team in the 90’s for eight years and our running back was Emmitt Smith,” Garrett said Thursday morning. “Every week we would play against defenses who’s really number one objective was to slow him down. Somehow, some way, he still made yards. He still made an impact on the defense. A big part of that was falling forward and really controlling the tempo of the game.

“We had similarly good running backs in Dallas when I was coaching there. Whether it was Marion Barber, DeMarco Murray or Zeke Elliott. I really think in a lot of ways Wayne Gallman has been doing that for our football team for the last month and a half.”

Talk about high praise.

Smith is only the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and holds the record for most rushing touchdowns, while Elliott has already collected two rushing crowns, three Pro Bowl appearances and been named a first-team All-Pro.

Gallman prior to this season averaged just 94 carries in his first three seasons but averages four yards per carry. Gallman is on pace to surpass his previous career high of 476 rushing yards and already has set a personal best for rushing touchdowns.

“One of the things about Wayne that’s so impressive is he’s a really good athlete, quickness, speed, elusiveness,” Garrett said. “He’s also demonstrating that physicalness that you’re talking about. His ability to finish runs has really been apparent to us. Certainly helped us a great deal as an offense and as a team.”

The Giant’s offense was built around running back Saquon Barkley and a ground-and-pound philosophy general manager Dave Gettleman hoped to impart with head coach Joe Judge and Garrett. However, Gallman has wildly exceeded expectations and looks every bit capable of being a feature back somewhere in 2021 and beyond.

“Wayne’s really done a good job running aggressive for us,” Judge said. “He’s definitely doing that falling forward as you referenced. That really comes to me from just his will and effort at the end of the run to play through contact, keep his legs driving and push for that extra yard. The biggest thing he’s really shown improvement on is playing with good pad level and ball security and driving through to make sure he just drives that extra yard.”

If the Giants are going to continue to string together victories and remain atop the NFC East race in the chase for a playoff berth, running the football is going to be paramount. Garrett believes Gallman and a steadily improving offensive line give the Giants the opportunity to do exactly that.

“They learned from their experiences,” Garrett said of the line’s early struggles. “The practical experiences blocking NFL defensive linemen. I think they’ve grown. We all know that we’re so far away from where we need to be, but there’s no doubt here we’ve made progress in the last month and a half. Those guys have done a really good job and been a big part of that.”

Should Gallman’s aggressive downhill and violent running style continue to be productive, he’s going to be a big part of the Giants’ success this season as well.

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Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.