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Film study: All aboard the Wayne Train

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Is Wayne Gallman the running back the Giants have been looking for?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

If there has been one bright spot to come out of the New York Giants rash of injuries and losses over the last two weeks, it has been the emergence of rookie running back Wayne Gallman.

Gallman, the Giants’ fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Clemson, came in to the league with the reputation of a determined runner who could pick up tough yardage. With four of the Giants’ wide receivers injured (three on IR), Paul Perkins dealing with a rib injury, and Orleans Darkwa consistently dealing with nagging injuries of his own, Gallman should be in line for a bigger role in the offense. Let’s take a look at what he has brought to the offense thus far.

Play 1

We’ll get started with Gallman’s first run of the afternoon, and it’s a goodie.

The Giants line up in their customary “11” personnel, shotgun package and run a counter on an outside zone play.

An outside zone run is pretty simple conceptually. The offensive line blocks toward the sideline, getting the defense to flow in that direction. In doing so it stresses the defensive front, causing running lanes to open. On the counter run, the running back (obviously) runs counter to the flow of the offense. If it works, as it does in this play, he winds up with plenty of open field in front of him to make a chunk gain. If the defense sniffs the play out, he has no blockers in front of him, and the play gets blown up.

While the offensive line does a good job of getting the defense to flow to the (offensive) left, it is TE Rhett Ellison and Gallman who make this play work.

Starting with Ellison, he gets a nice block on OLB Melvin Ingram. He not only gets him moving to the left, but also prevents him from getting any kind of penetration into the backfield that could have disrupted the play. That block is what opens up the edge for Gallman to take advantage of.

For his part, Gallman presses into the “C” gap between the right tackle and the tight end, which draws CB Casey Hayward up to fill the gap and go for the tackle. Until, that is, Gallman sticks his foot in the ground and makes a gorgeous jump cut to force the missed tackle. At that point Ellison has opened up the right edge and it’s off to the races for Gallman. He doesn’t have great speed (“just” a 4.60s 40-yard dash), but he shows off his burst to put some initial distance between himself and defenders and pick up an easy 15 yards before going out of bounds.

Play 2

Now we have something we haven’t seen to much of from the Giants in recent years — “12” (two tight end) personnel with Eli Manning under center. This is a bit later in the game, after the injuries to Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall, which undoubtedly helped influence the personnel choice.

Once again they run an outside zone play, though this time the back runs with the flow of the offense.

One of the characteristics of an outside zone play is that there is a primary lane, and then (usually) at least one cutback lane. You can see the primary lane open up immediately with D.J. Fluker and Brett Jones’ executing blocks at the snap of the ball. The right B-gap opens wide up, and that is where Gallman heads.

Gallman once again shows his decisiveness as a runner in committing to the the B-gap, never showing any hesitation before hitting the hole and that’s why this run is a successful one. Joey Bosa does a great job of using a long-arm on Bobby Hart to both set a hard edge and prevent an outside run, but also to start to work toward the middle of the field and constrict the running lane. Had Gallman hesitated at all, it would have closed as he got there.

He could have picked up more yards, but Fluker wasn’t quite able to execute his second-level block on the middle linebacker. As it was, Gallman showed off the toughness he was known for at Clemson and fought for every inch to finish the run.

Play 3

Now we move to an inside zone play, even though it winds up being a nice gain on the inside.

The run is supposed to go through the right A-gap, between Jones and Fluker. Unfortunately, Fluker isn’t quite able to get off his initial block and work to the second level in time to open the hole. But with the safety beating the block, the hole isn’t there, and Gallman has to improvise. Once again he shows off that nasty cut to stay out of the safety’s arms and bounce the run outside. He does get an assist from Fluker when he knocks the safety down to prevent Gallman from being dragged down from behind while he tries to get the edge.

Gallman is able to bounce the run outside because Ereck Flowers does a nice job of getting position on Ingram and TE Jerell Adams gets enough of S Jahleel Addae to open up the edge. Gallman tries for one last cut, but there are just too many defenders to juke out.

Play 4

Finally I wanted to get a “bad” run by Gallman, but I really couldn’t find any where his mistake killed the play. So instead I went with one where he just gained a yard.

This is an inside power run, with right guard D.J. Fluker pulling to the left to help open the hole between the left tackle and tight end. Flowers, and Evan Engram do their jobs and Gallman follows the pulling Fluker to the hole. The run fails because of a pair of poor blocks. First, on the outside, Sterling Shepard doesn’t really block CB Trevor Williams, actually pushing him into the backfield where he gets the first hit on Gallman. As the running back is fighting through that hit, defensive end Darius Philon sheds Justin Pugh’s block and makes sure the run doesn’t go anywhere.

But while the run itself is a failure, there are a couple things to like from Gallman himself. First, he knows right where he is going, and shows solid patience in following Fluker and letting him set up the block while Flowers works to the second level as well. Second, while he carried the ball loosely in the open field, Gallman gets a nice tight grip on it as he tries to go through the line of scrimmage.

Final thoughts

When blocked well (enough) Gallman is a fun back to watch run. He isn’t a “big” back, but he certainly runs like it, and with solid short-area quickness and acceleration, it makes him effective. Parts of his game are familiar from players like Ahmad Bradshaw or Andre Brown — or more recently, a healthy Orleans Darkwa.

Gallman has yet to be the touchdown machine he was at Clemson, but it’s still early in his NFL career. So far he has shown that he is able to keep an offense on schedule and moving. He also showed solid receiving skills, catching five passes for 25 yards on top of his 57 rushing yards (on 11 carries). Gallman is hardly proven yet, but he has shown enough that the Giants should lean on him more after their receiving corps was ravaged by injury.