NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Veteran Giants offensive lineman David Diehl looked at the NFL’s latest rushing statistics and felt a little queasy.
The Giants, who have prided themselves in their ability to run the football in the Tom Coughlin era, are ranked near the bottom of the league after five weeks. Their 83.8 yard average is 28th out of 32 teams, and their 3.17-yard average per carry is next to last.
For all that’s been said about New York’s struggling run defense, their anemic running game has flown largely under the radar.
No Giants running back has rushed for 100 yards this season, and things may not improve much this week with Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee’s status uncertain because of a concussion.
“For us to be like that makes me sick to my stomach,” said Diehl, who has been a constant on the line the past nine seasons. “The only thing you can do is work to improve it. It’s all correctable. It’s things that can be done. In order for us to win football games we have to rush for more than 100 yards a game. We gotta do that. We gotta get the run game going. It’s something we are consciously thinking about.”
While the lack of a running game has been surprising, it probably really shouldn’t be that surprising considering the changes in the offensive line in the offseason.
Longtime starters (center) Shaun O’Hara and (guard) Rich Seubert were both released after the new CBA was reached in moves related both to the salary cap and injuries. O’Hara missed most of last season with foot and ankle injuries and Seubert suffered a major knee injury in the final game of the regular season.
New York signed center David Baas once free agency opened, moved Diehl from left tackle to left guard and put third-year pro Will Beatty at left tackle. Snee and tackle Kareem McKenzie stayed on the right side.
It seemed like a good group, but they have not come close to matching last year when the Giants (3-2) averaged 137.5 yards and 4.583 per carry.
Coughlin said the new line has yet to mesh in the run game.
“It amazes me and that’s why I’m not very quick on the draw with your question about that because it’s a stumbling block for me in most situations to have to talk about how far we are down in the run,” Coughlin said. “Nevertheless, that’s the way it is. What happens with it is there is a technique error, an assignment error, a breakdown of some type and you what we have which last week was 2.8 was our average rush last week.”
Coughlin has no intention of dumping the run and letting Eli Manning air it out all the time, even though the quarterback threw for a career-high 420 yards and three touchdowns in the 36-25 loss to Seattle.
To a man, the offensive linemen feel the running game will get back on track as soon the missed blocks and missed assignment are cleaned up.
“We just haven’t broken as many long runs as we have in the past,” Manning said. “That’s where the yards add up. We used to pound it and get 3 or 4 yards and eventually we’d break that 30 or 40 yard, and we were among the top in the league the past three or four years on those runs. For whatever reason we don’t seem to be getting those. We just have to hang with it and hopefully we can get back on track.”
Going against the Bills this week might help. Buffalo (4-1) is giving up an average of 138.4 yards rushing.
Kevin Boothe, who probably would start at guard if Snee were unable to play, said the line needs to be more consistent. Some plays are blocked perfectly, he said.
Others are totally botched, like the safety the Seahawks Anthony Hargrove recorded when he broke through the line clean on a first and 10 from the Giants’ 5 and tackled D.J. Ware in the end zone.
“We’re definitely not satisfied,” Boothe said. “If you look at our track record, we know we should be a lot higher. There are a lot of games to be played and we can get to where we need to be with hard work.”
While the Cardinals and Seahawks both played eight defenders in the box to take away the run, Diehl and Boothe both said that’s no excuse not to run.
“Regardless you should be able to run the ball,” Boothe said. “Everyone on our offense believes we should be able to run the ball even they have eight or nine guys in the box. There is a way to run the ball. It is a matter of executing and getting it done. We haven’t been terribly successful the first few weeks of the year and we will get better.”
Baas, who missed last week’s game with a burner and was replaced by center by Boothe, said the Giants need to get going with the run.
“It’s the sixth week of the season,” he said. “We have to have that stuff straightened out. We can’t be having mistakes like that. That’s definitely something that we need to get corrected and do a lot less of moving forward.”
NOTES: Defensive ends Justin Tuck (neck-groin), Osi Umenyiora (knee), G Chris Snee (concussion), long-snapper Zak DeOssie (concussion), RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and FB Henry Hynoski (neck) did not practice on Wednesday. … LB Michael Boley (knee) was limited. … CB Prince Amukamara (foot) hopes to play after the bye.
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