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A closer look: What happened to the Giants' running game in Buffalo?

Chris takes a closer look at the Giants' running game to find out what went so wrong against the Buffalo Bills.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the time I love writing for Big Blue View about the New York Giants.

Having the opportunity to watch the game and team I love, to delve into the nuts and bolts, and share what I find is simply amazing. But there are times when it isn't so awesome. Occasionally I get to put on a plastic apron, do a coroner impression and perform an autopsy on a failed plays ... or even a whole game.

That's what I'll be doing today: Taking an in-depth look at the Giants' attempt at a running game against the Buffalo Bills, and finding out where it all went wrong. I'll be concentrating on the starters, since they'll be the ones who will be doing the blocking come Week 1.

Play 1 - 13:03

The offensive line simply didn't get any push. John Jerry was stood up at the line of scrimmage and Will Tye's pad level appeared too high to move any defenders backwards. The left side looked as though it got it's job done. Ereck Flowers blocked his man to the ground -- though he still needs to work on his punch and hand placement -- Bobby Hart blocked his man then released to the second level, and Weston Richburg won at the point of attack. But it wasn't enough to open a hole for Jennings.

Play 2 - 12:34

Marshall Newhouse missed his block, never put a hand on the defender who ran right to Jennings in the backfield.

Play 3 - 11:27

Larry Donnell whiffed on his block this time, letting the defender get a free run at Shane Vereen.

Play 4 - 5:38

Newhouse looks as though he was surprised by the defender's inside move, and is beaten. Donnell is supposed to dig the inside linebacker out and open up a hole, but he hits the defender that beats Newhouse, effectively closing the running lane.

Play 5 - 5:01

Richburg chips the nose tackle before handing him off to Jerry and releasing to the second level. Jerry can't quite keep the hole open long enough for Jennings to get through and allow Richburg and Tye (fullback) to establish blocks at the second level. Jennings picks up 11 yards, but he fought for all of them.

Play 6 - 2:27

Offensive holding (Richburg), no play. 10-yard penalty.

Play 7 - 2:02

Donnell can't doesn't set the edge for Williams to get to the second level cleanly while a pulling Jerry misses his block to slow down Williams more. Richburg does a nice job of re-anchoring in the middle while Hart and Flowers both get decent blocks.

Play 1 - 10:46 (second quarter)

Andre Williams fumbled on a run behind the right tackle. Newhouse is supposed to block inside linebacker Zach Brown. Newhouse sets up as though he expects Brown to come to the outside, but instead he comes straight forward though the B-gap, beating Newhouse to the inside. Brown swipes at the ball as he gets to Williams, who had two hands on the ball, jarring it loose as Newhouse gets back to Brown.


Mental mistakes on behalf of the blockers doomed the Giants' running game. The running backs didn't have much to do with the failure of the running game, and even when Williams fumbled he had two hands on the ball and it appeared as though he got hit at just the wrong -- or right, if you're the Bills -- angle and moment. When there was success on a running play, it was either a player refusing to go down like Rashad Jennings or somehow managing to pick his way through the trash like Williams or Bobby Rainey.

I can't say what was going through the collective head of the Giants' blockers, but it didn't look like it was the Bills. To my eye, there were few instances where a Giants' blocker was flat-out beaten, but rather they didn't seem to have their heads in the game. Missing blocks, not realizing defenders could make an inside move, or bad pad level lead to a futile running game.

The bad news is that these mistakes kept cropping up. Mistakes are okay, preseason is the time to make mistakes, but making the same mistakes again and again isn't okay.

The good news is that it's still preseason and the Giants have two weeks of practices and the "dress rehearsal" third preseason game to eliminate as many of these mistakes as possible. Teams are looking for improvement over the course of the preseason; after the first two preseason games the Giants have plenty of room for it and plenty of coaching tape. It isn't time to panic just yet, but it IS time for the Giants' blockers to work with urgency to eliminate mental mistakes.