The Loss of Andre Brown Proved to Be the Difference in Giants' Season Opener

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 8:  David Wilson #22 of the New York Giants runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-36.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Deep down Giants fans knew that putting all of the running game eggs into the David Wilson basket was an extremely risky proposition.

Wilson is undersized, a poor pass blocker and had already shown a propensity to fumble the football last season.

That being said, he is still quite a talented young player who could be very successful if used properly.

Wilson is built more as a return man and occasional first- and second-down back than a running back that can be counted on to carry the bulk of the Giants running load upon his shoulders.

This is precisely why the Giants retained Andre Brown as both a back-up plan should Wilson, well, perform as he did last night against the Cowboys and as their primary short down and pass-blocking back.

Brown is larger and more powerful than Wilson (Brown is 6-foot-0 and 227 pounds vs. Wilson who is 5-foot-9 and listed at a generous 206 pounds), which would make him the more sensible option around the goal line and on short-yardage plays.

Wilson, partially due to his size and partially due to his skill and technique, has also shown himself to be a very poor pass protector. While Brown is certainly not the best pass-blocking back in the league, he is a significant step up from Wilson, and he would have more than likely been in the backfield each and every time Manning stepped back to throw last night.

So, although the Giants may have tried to put on a brave face heading into Week 1 of the season, the running game for all intents and purposes went out the window the moment Brown limped off of the field during the Giants’ final preseason game in New England with what would later be diagnosed as a fractured left leg.

This became abundantly clear just minutes into the first quarter of last night’s game when Wilson fumbled the ball on first-and-goal from the Cowboys' 8-yard line on a running play that would have normally involved Brown.

Several minutes later on the Giants’ next possession the loss of Brown stung a bit more…at least for Eli Manning who took a shot from defensive end George Selvie after Wilson failed to even slow him down, let alone lay a block on him.

When Wilson coughed up the ball again early in the third quarter his night was over and the Giants were left with Da’Rel Scott, who prior to last night’s game had just 11 carries for a whopping 25 yards during his first two seasons with the team.

Scott's inexperience became painfully obvious late in the fourth quarter when he and Manning got their signals crossed on a short pass which bounced off of Scott's hands and directly into the hands of Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr, who raced into the end-zone for a comeback-crushing touchdown.

The Giants now find themselves in the very predicament that they had feared most with regards to their running game heading into the 2013 seasonWilson has demonstrated an inability to carry the running load while Brown is now out with an injury.

This has essentially left the Giants with an almost non-existent running game heading into Week 2 against a Denver Broncos team that just decimated last year’s Super Bowl champions during their first game of the season.

The Giants have placed Brown the short-term IR list, meaning that he will be eligible to return to the team after the eighth game of the season, which of course does little to help the Giants right now.

When asked about whether or not Wilson would reclaim his starting job next week, head coach Tom Coughlin responded by saying “I’m not going to answer that question now. Give us a little time to work on this thing. He’s still very much in our thoughts. He’s got to play. He’s a very talented young man.”

However, Coughlin then went on to say “They are not going to play unless they hang onto the ball,” Coughlin said. “It’s demoralizing to the whole team.”

When Wilson had a case of fumblitis during last year’s season opener against Dallas, he saw very little action again until the second half of the season. However, that was different…Coughlin actually had other running options at his disposal last season.

Coughlin and the Giants simply do not have that luxury this year after releasing Ahmad Bradshaw during the offseason. The Giants options heading into week two are simple:

1) Put Wilson back on the field and hope for the best.

2) Go with Scott and see if he can miraculously develop into a starting NFL running back within a matter of six days.

3) Go outside of the team and try to bring in another running back.

None of these three options would be particularly appealing to the Giants right now, but it is what it is.

The Giants took a risk with Wilson this season, and just moments into the first game of the year it became abundantly that the Giants tried to bite off a bit more than they could chew with him as their primary back.

The next several days should be interesting as the Giants somehow attempt to completely rebuild a running game before the much anticipated “Manning Bowl” Sunday afternoon at Met Life Stadium.


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