The New York Giants running game has picked up this preseason where it left off last year.
And no, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Case in point: Last year, the Giants running game finished the regular season ranked 29th in the league, averaging 88.2 yards per game on the ground with an average of 3.5 yards per carry.
Thus far this preseason? The Giants have moved up to 26th in the league, but are averaging 76.3 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry.
Despite what the numbers say, starting running back Paul Perkins believes the running game is heading in the right direction.
“Yeah. I think we made steps in the right direction. Progress – that’s the biggest thing for us. Coach’s mantra is 1% better, so I think we’re definitely following that mantra,” he said.
The problem is the Giants need their running game to be a lot better than one percent each day if they’re to contend for the NFC East title. Last year with a one-dimensional offense, teams could tee up against the Giants, which is one of the reasons why the offensive production tumbled down the charts.
And in getting back to the numbers, it bears a mention that Perkins, working primarily behind the first-team offensive line, has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry, a statistic that while not all his doing—the run blocking by the offensive line has struggled at times to open holes for him—he nonetheless shares.
By contrast, Orleans Darkwa and rookie Wayne Gallman, both of whom have mostly worked with the second and third team offenses, are averaging 3.6 and 3.5 yards per carry, respectively.
Despite the running game’s sluggishness this preseason, Perkins said he’s seen things that give him hope for a brighter outlook.
“I mean, whether it’s misreads from the running backs or just the minor details that we can clean up and help the offensive line improve their blocks,” he said.
What should help the run blocking is the addition of tight end Rhett Ellison, who comes to the Giants with a reputation of being a solid run-blocker. The Giants are also contemplating adding a fullback to their running game, potentially undrafted rookie Shane Smith, listed ahead of Jacob Huesman on the depth chart.
“It’s different,” Perkins said of having a fullback in the mix. “I mean, last year we did a lot of spread sets. The angles and the blocking is definitely different, but I think it’s definitely helping our team in the run game.”
Whether it all comes together for Week 1, remains to be seen, but Perkins is feeling optimistic about that.
“It’s just only a matter of time,” he said. “We’re just making steps in the right direction, continuing to progress and I think we’ll be in our stride for the regular season.”