The 2007 Giants offense featured a very talented offensive line and a trio of running backs who were so dynamic that they were dubbed “Earth, Wind, and Fire.” The offensive line opened up holes left and right for the backs, who would wear down defenses with a burst of speed (Bradshaw), a powerful push (Jacobs), and an extra dimension (Ward). This was especially pivotal in the crucial playoff clincher Week 16 against Buffalo, when Ahmad Bradshaw broke out with a huge game.
The 2011 Giants are now down to one of those backs in Brandon Jacobs, while Ahmad Bradshaw recovers from an injury and a pair of little-known speedy backs try to fill the gaps. The 2011 Giants rank 31st in the league in rushing, after finishing sixth in the league last year. Additionally, the offensive line has been totally shaken up, as we’ve seen Ivy League Cornell grad Kevin Boothe handle many snaps at center and elsewhere on the offensive line while pro bowler Shaun O’Hara is no longer with the team. Boothe was a backup on the ’07 squad and has struggled at times this season, especially with easy things like snapping the ball.
Another problem is Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. I find myself back and forth with praise and disappointment with Gilbride, but this season I’ve been seriously wondering what he is doing. Throughout his tenure as OC of the Giants, I’ve seen him call his fair share of ridiculous shotgun draws at the weirdest times in the game. This year is no different and Gilbride continues to drill this shotgun draw into the ground. It simply doesn’t work, it never has, and I have no clue why he keeps doing it.
The Giants desperately need a healthy Bradshaw to offset the power back in Jacobs. The Giants had been known to be a team that knows how to mix it up at the running back position, keeping defenses on their toes or off guard. Lately, this hasn’t been the case with the absence of Bradshaw as the Giants have dropped two straight after starting the season with a commanding 6-2 record.
The Giants, who are tied with Dallas for the NFC East division lead, have one of the toughest schedules remaining this season as they have to face New Orleans and Green Bay in the next couple weeks — and they haven’t even faced Dallas yet. In order to win the division, they will need to win some difficult games, and especially the games within the division.