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Giants Need More from Daniel Jones in Running Game

Giants Country on FanNation 12/1/2022 Joe Najarian
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The Giants need to get back to having quarterback Daniel Jones take on some of the rushing workload, as he did earlier in the season when the team was winning.

Although the New York Giants are 7-4 and still control their destiny for a playoff spot, they are reeling from back-to-back losses four days apart.

There are several factors for the team’s recent regression, which include injuries on both sides of the ball and defensive struggles on third down. But perhaps the biggest problem in the two losses was something that the Giants did very well in previous games: establishing the running game.

In their losses to the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, the Giants had less than 100 total rushing yards in each game. Both opponents managed to bottle up superstar running back Saquon Barkley, who currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing and is just eight yards shy of a 1,000-yard campaign.

Barkley had only 22 rushing yards on 15 carries against the Lions, which was a very uncharacteristic performance given his dominance earlier in the season. Against the Cowboys, he had a slightly better game with 39 rushing yards and scored a touchdown, but oddly had just 11 carries.

There can be many reasons for Barkley's sudden drop-off, as we noted above, including fatigue on the part of Barkley and the opponents simply figuring out how to slow him down.

But another factor worth exploring is the role of quarterback Daniel Jones in the running game. Jones has averaged nearly four yards per carry this season and 40.5 rushing yards per game.

In the first eight games, Jones averaged over 10 yards per carry as a runner; since returning from the bye, he's averaged 9.7 yards per carry and has seen his average carries decrease from 4.125 per game to 3.0.

It's unclear why the Giants have moved away from sending Jones on designed runs. The quarterback suffered an ankle injury earlier in the year (vs. Chicago in Week 4), which might have been an early season reason. And up until recently, he had been working in a knee brace after reportedly hurting his knee in a Week 5 game against the Packers.

But offensive coordinator Mike Kafka insists that the coaching staff didn't just recently wake up and decide to stop using Jones's running ability.

"It’s part of every game plan. We’ve had it since the beginning of the season, being multiple with the run schemes, being able to use the backs, and being able to use DJ out in space on a couple of different things. It’s something we look at every single week," Kafka said.

Kafka side-stepped pointing the finger at any specific item as being behind the decreased rushing production by Jones over the last several weeks. He did mention how opponents have been playing their defensive ends whenever the Giants have gotten Jones on the perimeter, adding, “We’ve got to be flexible and create compliments off of those things.”

He also mentioned the need to get back to the basics, the fundamentals that were working so well earlier in the season.  

“I think it’s a combination of trusting (the run game), all of us – players and coaches trusting it – executing it, getting the right fundamentals and techniques,” Kafka said. “That’ll just come with the work, and that’s why we’re coming to practice with a good mentality and attitude, and I think we can clean up a lot of those things that we’ve been missing the last couple of weeks.”

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