The success of the New York Giants is determined by many things. A very important factor is the running game. Rashad Jennings has been something of a revelation as a hard-nosed, always fall forwards, carry the pile kind of utility back, but he got injured in the game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Giants were then forced to turn to Andre Williams, the rookie out of Boston College. His numbers weren't great, averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry, but actually watch the runs on film and you see a player that, to put it very delicately, "invited" any and all contact.
Williams wasn't able to do it alone, as he had another teammate (and rookie), Weston Richburg out of Colorado State helping him out. Richburg had his best game as a pro against the Falcons and has really started to develop into a complete player. He has formed some sort of mind-meld with left tackle Will Beatty and center J.D. Walton and the three of them have really pushed the left side of the offensive line into an "elite" level front. Let's take a look at a few plays involving both Williams and Richburg from this past week's game.
This is about as nicely a blocked 7-yard run as you can have in the National Football League. Watch the left guard Richburg pull back and use his sheer athleticism to get in front of Henry Hynoski and Williams to make a crucial cut block on the crashing linebacker. An Atlanta defender gets off a block second early and gets his hands around Williams as he's traversing through the gap, but Williams' thick torso and driving legs prevent him from going down.
This is a pretty funny play. Richburg is so fast getting his pull that he actually steals Larry Donnell's blocking assignment. Watch number 84 following behind number 70, stopping and then redirects back in the hole to find a new guy to block. The result is Andre Williams gets a lane the size of Interstate-95 to run through before barreling into a couple of Falcons defenders up the field. Another beautifully executed play.
This is the touchdown play, and while Richburg doesn't feature heavily in this one, we wanted to include it to show off Williams' sheer power from this angle. John Jerry actually has trouble maintaining his block long enough and the lane closes in on Williams but he shrugs it off and meets linebacker Paul Worrilow in the hole. That meeting did not go well for Worrilow as Williams lowers his shoulder and lays the boomstick into the end zone.
The final play I want to illustrate is a pass play. First off, before anything, as a side note I want you to focus on the right side of the offensive line. They execute picking up a stunt pretty effortlessly as Justin Pugh picks up J.D Walton's initial guy and Walton and John Jerry pick up the guy crashing inside simultaneously. Pretty nifty.
Now watch Richburg as he pretty much just takes on Malliciah Goodman straight on and stones him. Perfect technique with a wide base, active hands, leans into the body of the defender. There's a big gap for Williams to run through between the left guard and center and he runs a really nice route.
I'll admit, I was (and to a degree, still am a little bit) a big doubter when it came to the help that Williams could provide in the pass game but I have to admit that's a pretty crisp cut. You can tell he got the timing right because Eli Manning has already thrown the ball by the time he gets his entire body turned around and does a good job catching it without breaking stride. He lets the ball into his body, but the throw had some extra mustard on it, so I don't blame him too much. Overall, another nice play and a clutch one at that, as it was caught for a first down.
Richburg wasn't supposed to be strong enough to hold his own at left guard. Heck, he wasn't even supposed to be playing and should've just been the backup center. Richburg, was, however, supposed to be athletic enough to get down field and provide punishing blocks 10 to 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Williams wasn't supposed to be an asset in the pass game at all. He never even caught a ball in his last year at Boston College. Williams was, however, supposed to be a guy that you could count on to run at and through any defender that stood in his way.
We are seeing now, that these players are doing what they are supposed to be doing based on what they excelled at in the college level. Even more promising is that they are slowly developing into players who are upgrading their weaknesses and becoming the types of every down players that the Giants had hoped for (and now, need) them to be.