Just how good is the Giants rushing attack?


For a while now, there has been an internal debate over the efficacy of the Giants running game.  Those who believe they are very strong in the run game can simply point to the stats (aka the facts).

By yards per game, the Giants rank 5th in the league at 146.9.   Their average per carry is 4.6 which is 6th. 

Incidentally, the Giant's opponent this week rank 3rd in yards per game (151.1) and 1st in avg per carry (5.4) though that is certainly skewed by Michael Vick's scrambles.  The Giants are also at the top of the heap when it comes to 1st downs earned by rush (tied with Jaguars at 73 1st downs). 

The flip side to this is a little harder to back with statistics, or with less conventional ones (aka the other facts)

For most of the season, the giants have been a feast or famine offense. Either they are completely clicking on all cylinders (Texans, Seahawks, most of 1st Cowboy game) or they have prolonged periods of frustrating stagnation (Bears, Colts).  This has been a year of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is the high amount of "stuffs" that the giants have been experiencing. 

Full credit to the website football outsiders for tracking these statistics, they should really charge money for it.

As you can see, the Giants, though ranking high in total offense, are 20 out of 32nd in "stuffs", defined as ”Percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage."  They are by far the worst ranked team in the top 5 rushing teams. 

Further, the Giants have a 58% ranking for "power success" which measures success on runs of third or 4th down, with 2 yards or less to go. Think about that for a second. There is only a 58% chance that the Giants get a first down or TD with 2 yds or less to go. With one of the most elusive and tenacious runners in the league, complemented by one of the biggest (if not the biggest) backs in the league. For comparison, the #1 team in the league (the NY jets) is successful in 77% of such attempts.  Incidentally, the league average is 62%.  An ignominious and unsurprising stat, if you have watched them much this year: the giants rank 2nd in total fumbles and 1st in fumbles lost.  The Eagles, incidentally, rank #13 in Stuffed Rank and their power success is 70%. 

I enjoyed viewing this data in the context of an itching suspicion I have been clinging to, which is the Giants run game, though putting up gaudy numbers, is not as dominant as one would think. 

A lot of their success comes from the spread set, with interior draws out of the shotgun and other "non-conventional" running plays. I believe that as the Giants come around to this "pass first, let Eli scan the field and call plays accordingly" type mentality, you can see the rushing stats (at least the non-classic ones) improve, and we can begin to rely once again on a hardnosed and focused rushing attack

Curious to hear the forums thoughts.


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