Breaking Down Giants' Trainwreck Backfield, and What New York Should Do Next

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Breaking Down Giants' Trainwreck Backfield, and What New York Should Do Next
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In his first game as a New York Giants running back, David Wilson fumbled on his second carry. One year later and against the same team, in his first game as the New York Giants' starting running back, Wilson fumbled twice more. 

That, obviously, is a major concern. It's why, despite the fact the Giants are shallow at that position, Wilson was sent back to head coach Tom Coughlin's infamous doghouse for the remainder of the night. 

Fumbles, though, aren't the only concern here. Tiki Barber was the last Giants back to fumble twice in a game. He fumbled a lot early in the Coughlin era before finding a way to cut down on those turnovers. But for Wilson, those fumbles are just part of a broad formula that right now equals unreliability.

We saw that on the two fumbles, but we also saw it when Wilson—who as a rookie took as much heat for his poor pass protection as his ball security—whiffed on Cowboys pass-rusher George Selvie in the red zone, resulting in a sack of Eli Manning and pretty much spoiling Big Blue's chances of capitalizing inside the Dallas 5-yard line.

Coughlin hates unreliable people and unreliable things, and thus everyone expects the Giants to sign someone a little more reliable this week. Someone who can come in and at least bring some experience and stability to a backfield that is a mess.

Maybe jitters factored in, but that's not a risk the Giants can take right now. Not with the Denver Broncos coming to town and an 0-2 record looking them straight in the eye.

Andre Brown, who has the making of a solid third-down back, can't stay healthy. He's out at least half the season with a fractured leg. At least backup Da'Rel Scott picked up 74 yards on 10 touches in relief of Wilson Sunday night, but don't forget that it was Scott who essentially volleyed a Manning checkdown right into Brandon Carr's hands on the game-clinching turnover. 

I believe the Giants have known for some time that they have to sign a veteran. Doing so prior to this week would have meant that they'd owe said veteran his entire salary for the 2013 season. Doing so now means they can go week to week. And when you're as strapped for cap space as the Giants are, that's a big factor. 

Now, they worked out Jonathan Dwyer, Leon Washington and Beanie Wells last week, but Dwyer has re-signed with Pittsburgh, per Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette, and Washington is now in New England

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that they've had a Tuesday workout with free-agent vet Willis McGahee planned since Friday, while USA Today's Mike Garafolo reports that former Giant Brandon Jacobs will be among a group of backs essentially auditioning on Tuesday.

Michael Turner is another intriguing option with plenty of experience, but there haven't been any reports linking him to the Giants. 

Still, let's include him on a list of four: Wells, McGahee, Jacobs and Turner. A breakdown:

Giants: Running back candidates
Free-agent back Age 2012 stats The lowdown
Willis McGahee 31 4.4 YPC Fumbled 4 times last year in Denver.
Brandon Jacobs 31 5 carries Knows the offense well.
Beanie Wells 25 2.7 YPC Not a great pass blocker.
Michael Turner 31 3.6 YPC Might be out of gas.

Stats from

I don't know what kind of shape he's in right now, but I still feel as though Turner is the best option. This team was already having trouble relying on Jacobs two years ago, McGahee comes with injury and character concerns and might be a fumble risk as well. Wells isn't a third-down-type back. But Turner was graded by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) as the seventh-best pass-blocking halfback in football last season.

Yes, his productivity dropped off as a rusher, but he won't be asked to carry as much of a load this time around. 

That said, I don't think it could hurt for the Giants to take a shot at any of these guys, or even a combination. They need guys who can handle the spotlight and the pressure and can simply get the job done. 

This is a pass-first team, but it always helps to have stability in the backfield. The Giants simply don't have that right now with Wilson and Scott and rookie Michael Cox. They might not need a complete overhaul, and that's not possible right now anyway. They do, however, need support, and what they have to pick from on Tuesday should be enough to right the ship.

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