If there is an area of concern that could derail the New York Giants plans of returning to the playoffs this year, it will be their inability to get the run game going. That issue raised itself on Friday night in the Giants 20-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first game of preseason.
It should be noted that it was just preseason but the opening returns on the supposedly improved ground game and offensive line is shaky.
Paul Perkins, likely to be the starting running back come Week 1, had just three rushing yards on five carries, this despite starting the game with a seven-yard gain. No running back distinguished himself with Orleans Darkwa the best of the bunch as he had 18 yards on three carries.
The blame doesn’t rest entirely on the running back stable as the offensive line rarely opened holes. Especially worrisome was the display of the first team unit as they had struggles in trying to get the ground game going.
“We have definitely been a more physical offensive line, but at the end of the day, we can and will do better,” guard John Jerry said on Sunday before addressing where this team must improve.
“Sustaining blocks, finishing plays, we have to get better at giving the quarterback more time, sacks, all of those things we have to get better at.”
The Giants finished the game with just 73 rushing yards despite handing it off a healthy 23 times. That is 3.2 yards per carry, a stat below their woeful number from last year.
The Giants averaged 88.3 yards per game a season ago, fourth-worst in the NFL. Now they start preseason even worse.
“I think at the running back position Paul Perkins has an opportunity to go out and establish himself,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said. “I look forward to seeing him getting more carries as we go through the preseason and into the regular season.”
Some of it was scheme as the Giants kept their offense purposefully vanilla, allowing the Steelers in their 3-4 to stack the box and make things difficult for the running game to get going. Still, it simply wasn’t an encouraging start to preseason for the ground game or their blockers.
The offensive line wasn’t just subpar in their run blocking as they allowed seven sacks in their preseason opener.