Commentary

New York Giants' running problem

With Bradshaw sidelined and Jacobs ineffective, New York has a crippling weakness

Originally Published: November 22, 2011
By Vince Verhei | Football Outsiders
Ahmad BradshawJim O'Connor/US PresswireFor the Giants to make noise in the playoffs, they need a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw.

The MVP of the New York Giants' 2007 Super Bowl team wasn't Eli Manning or Plaxico Burress or Michael Strahan. No, the most valuable "player" on that team was an offensive line that consistently opened holes for a heavy rotation of running backs. Five years later, however, the Giants' running game is a shell of its former self.

New York gained just 29 yards on the ground in a 17-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. The loss dropped the Giants to 6-4 and left them tied atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, whom they play twice in the final month of the season. Can they revive their moribund ground attack to get past the Cowboys and into the playoffs?

New York's rushing attack didn't collapse overnight; it has been slowly eroding over time. Below is a year-by-year look at how the Giants have fared in a variety of rushing statistics. Yards per game and yards per carry are based on standard NFL numbers, but the other metrics are Football Outsiders' exclusive numbers and may not be familiar to some readers. DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) measures an ability not only to pick up chunks of yards but also to make steady progress toward first downs. ALY (adjusted line yards) attempts to measure a team's run blocking by putting a cap on long runs and adding a penalty for losing yards, while OFY (open-field yards) measures big-play ability by looking only at yards gained 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage (both explained here).