We have established that the New York Giants were miserable running the ball Sunday vs. the Denver Broncos, with 19 carries for 23 yards. Let's break it down play-by-play with the benefit of NFL.com's 'Game Pass."
10:04 1st quarter. 1st-and-10, Denver 29-yard line.
David Wilson, 5-yard gain
9:30 1st quarter. 2nd-and-5, Denver 24-yard line
Brandon Jacobs, 5-yard gain
Justin Pugh seals the right side and Jacobs slides off his block for a first down. At this point, two runs for 10 yards. That means the Giants ran 17 times for 13 yards the remainder of the game.
8:37 1st quarter. 1st-and-10, Denver 19-yard line
David Wilson, 1-yard gain
The first shotgun draw of the day, run to the right from a three-wide set. Right tackle Justin Pugh appears to handle his man, but Chris Snee looks beaten to the inside. The bigger problem? Both Victor Cruz, in the slot, and Hakeem Nicks don't even touch their defenders, allowing them to step inside and give Wilson no place to run.
4:40 1st quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 16-yard line
David Wilson, 3-yard loss
Denver defensive end Robert Ayers makes an inside move on rookie Justin Pugh, who barely gets a hand on him. Jacobs gets the Wilson treatment, being crushed as soon as he takes the handoff.
13:35 2nd quarter, 1st-and-10, New York 45-yard line
Center David Baas completely whiffs on Denver defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, who demolishes Wilson at just about the instant he takes the handoff on a run to the right side.
1:13 1st quarter, 2nd-and-10, New York 11-yard line
Brandon Jacobs, 3-yard loss
Denver defensive end Robert Ayers barrels inside of rookie right tackle Justin Pugh, who lunges to the outside and barely gets a hand on him. Jacobs gets the Wilson treatment, possibly wishing he was still out of the league after Ayers slammed into him as soon as he took the handoff.
13:35, 2nd quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 45-yard line
Brandon Jacobs, 2-yard gain
Jacobs is in a single back set. This is a run to the left side with right guard Chris Snee pulling to lead the way. It appears to be well-blocked, except Snee missed Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan right in the hole. With a block from Snee, this play might have gone for a decent gain.
9:24 2nd quarter, 1st-and-10, Denver 43-yard line
Brandon Jacobs, 2-yard loss
Denver is coming on a run blitz here. I don't even know which linemen to blame on this one. what you can clearly see is that by the time Jacobs gets the ball 4 yards deep in the backfield there are already three Broncos defenders who have beaten blocks, are in the backfield and have a clear path to the helpless running back.
6:05, 2nd quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 40-yard line
David Wilson, 6-yard gain
A shotgun draw that nearly went to the house. Chris Snee and David Baas open a huge hole for Wilson. Denver linebacker Shaun Phillips gets off a Pugh block just in time to dive and trip Wilson by the ankle. Even tight end Brandon Myers did a decent job sealing a linebacker at the second level here.
4:04 2nd quarter, 1st-and-10, Denver 31-yard line
David Wilson, 2-yard gain
Another shotgun draw. This play was a mess. Pugh appears beaten at the line of scrimmage, though he may not have been the only one. Wilson twists and fights and nearly breaks away, doing a great job to get anything positive from this play.
3:18 2nd quarter. 2nd-and-8, Denver 29-yard line
David Wilson, 6-yard gain
Once again an inside handoff to Wilson from the gun. This time Pugh, Snee, Baas and a pulling Boothe spring Wilson into the secondary. Unfortunately, Myers and Cruz can't hold their blocks long enough for Wilson to turn this one into a big play.
7:34 3rd quarter. 1st-and-10, Denver 31-yard line
David Wilson, no gain
Yes, the Giants went more than halfway into the third quarter without having a running play. This was a run up the middle for Wilson, almost a pistol-type play. Not sure if David Baas or Kevin Boothe was the culprit here, Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton was in the backfield to haul Wilson down. Hakeem Nicks also seemed to miss a block on the outside.
5:09, 3rd quarter. 1st-and-goal, Denver 4-yard line
Brandon Jacobs, 1-yard gain
This was a massive pile of humanity straight up the middle. No way to really see who did what in terms of blocking, but there wasn't anyplace for Jacobs to go.
4:22, 3rd quarter. 2nd-and-goal, Denver 3-yard line
Da'Rel Scott, 1-yard gain
Yes, the shotgun draw. Again, difficult to tell who missed a block but Travathan gets to Scott untouched.
3:35, 3rd quarter. 1st-and-gosl, Denver 1-yard line (following penalty)
Brandon Jacobs, no gain
Boothe misses a cut block on Knighton, who makes the play. The Giants catch a break when Knighton is flagged for taunting.
3:18, 3rd quarter. 1st-and-goal, Denver 1-yard line (following another penalty)
Brandon Jacobs, 1-yard touchdown run
The offensive line finally wins a battle at the line of scrimmage. Boothe, Snee and Pugh all clearly push their men into the end zone as Jacobs plows up the middle for a score. Henry Hynoski also gets a good lead block.
11:17, 4th quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 32-yard line
Da'Rel Scott, 1-yard loss
By this time the Giants are in shotgun on every play, as they have been most of the second half. The score is 31-16 Denver at this stage. So, variations of the shotgun draw are about all they have in their running arsenal. David Baas appears to whiff on Denver defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who makes the play in the backfield.
8:33, 4th quarter. 2nd-and-1, Denver 47-yard line
Da'Rel Scott, 2-yard gain
You know the play call. Scott gets the first down, but Pascoe could not handle Ayers on the outside or this play could have gone for bigger yardage.
5:06, 4th quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 44-yard line
Da'Rel Scott, 4-yard gain
Once again Scott could have had a bigger gain, but a Giants' blocker couldn't sustain his block. This time it looked like Kevin Boothe who could not keep control of Robert Ayers, allowing him to make the play.
2:00, 4th quarter. 1st-and-10, New York 45-yard line
Da'Rel Scott, 4-yard loss
A jailbreak in the backfield on the Giants' final rushing play of the game.
You can kill Kevin Gilbride for the plethora of shotgun runs if you want. Really, though, the Giants had little choice in the second half but to go shotgun -- especially when the fell behind by 15 points. If you look at each of those runs there were chances for success, and missed blocks or assignment errors that caused the plays to break down.
In each case I have pointed out what I think I see. In fairness to the linemen, what I can't tell is when there were missed assignments. In those instances it may look like a player missed a block when, in truth, someone else's man was running by him. I have done the best I can to accurately portray who missed what blocks, though it wouldn't surprise me if I have identified the wrong culprit in a few cases.
Veteran offensive lineman Chris Snee said the effort in the running game simply "wasn't good enough." Snee was really distressed by the inability to get run plays blocked in the second half, when the Broncos were playing a softer, pass-oriented defense.
"Obviously we're not doing something right," said Kevin Boothe. "We gotta figure it out because you can't be one-dimensional in this league."
The hardest part of figuring it out is that it is impossible to blame one player's struggles or to say the backs are missing holes. There aren't holes on any sort of consistent basis, and the breakdowns seem to come from a different place on each play.
Maybe things will improve as Hynoski gets sharper, Jacobs gets into better shape, Baas' health improves and the line gets more reps together. It is apparent, though, that this won't be an easy fix.
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