For half a season, the New York Giants’ running game became the face of the team’s offensive identity.
Led by Saquon Barkley, the Giants’ rushing offense averaged a whopping 173.4 yards per game in their first seven contests, with the team averaging a 6-1 record over that span. But in its last four games, including Thursday’s 28-10 loss to the Cowboys, the Giants’ running game has averaged 112 yards per game on the ground while averaging a 1-3 record.
The drop in production is likely related to a number of factors. First, Barkley is struggling with a shoulder problem that has seen his carries drop to 26 over the past two weeks. But more importantly, the teams appear to have figured out how to slow down the running game Barkley and the Giants, with the Cowboys being the latest to achieve this.
“Yeah, we didn’t do much,” said head coach Brian Daboll after the game. “We averaged ten feet or something like that? I thought (offensive coordinator) Mike (Kafka) had a good plan how it came out, get Daniel moving a little and try to loosen him up but never really got anything going, got no explosives. Gary (Brightwell) had a few towards the end but we definitely need to clean that up.
Quarterback Daniel Jones had no answers after the game as to what the Cowboys were doing to slow the game in progress, but he was quick to give credit to the opponent.
“You have to give them credit. You are a good front. They’re a good defense. You did a good job.”
Left tackle Andrew Thomas, part of a Giants offensive line that saw three new starters this week, said the offensive line needs to be better against this Cowboys front.
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“We just need to improve our technique because sometimes we run the ball so well – we get a lot more starts, pressure and turns – we need to communicate better and absorb it,” he said.
However, Barkley, a team captain, said it fell on him.
“I have to do a better job. I need to go back and watch movies and see what I can do better and I can give you a better answer,” he said. “But off the first train of thought, if the running game doesn’t work, it starts with the running back. I have to get better at that too.”
However, Daboll blamed no one.
“I would say with the running game everyone needs to get better. It won’t always be clean. There will be some ones, some twos. We missed some bigger games that usually help in the running game,” he said.
“We just couldn’t get through there. The blocking, running, the design. We need to do a better job all around, I’d say, with the running game. Coach it, execute it. We’ve got a lot to improve on. This is certainly one of them.”