The New York Giants have decided to let Eli Manning air it out in 2017 with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham, and Sterling Shepard. As great as that core sounds, there will be no huge gains if the Giants cannot protect Manning and the receivers with a consistent ground game. The Giants have not been able to find a back that could be for them what Tiki Barber was even on his worst days. Manning and ODB have put up great stats over the last few years but imagine how awesome they could be if they could actually run the damn ball.
Rashad Jennings was thought to be a grind-it-out type back but he has done nothing but grind short yardage after short yardage. With his contributions, it’s a wonder how Beckham has continued to get single coverage.
In order for the Giants to continue on their upward swing in the NFC East and challenge the Dallas Cowboys, they must improve on their 29th ranked rushing attack with only 88 yards per game. Jennings is gone but the Giants may feel they can rely on the young legs of Paul Perkins. That may be true after his 456 yards on 112 carries with only one start but with a few good backs in free agency, they would be wise to think outside the locker room.
One name come to mind right off the bat. Latavius Murray of the Oakland Raiders. With the Raiders not willing to give Murray his Market Value of $6.7M the running back is forced to look elsewhere. If the Giants do not have a sour taste in their mouth after dealing with one former Raider (Jennings) they should take a flyer on Murray. His MV is a bit high for a player that has reached 1000 yards just once but he’s a true end zone threat with 12 rushing touchdowns on 2016.
This is exactly what the Giants need to keep defenses honest and give Manning the necessary time to make the throws to Marshall and Beckham. What makes this signing important is that Murray is still young and will split time in the backfield with Perkins giving them a power and speed duo.
The NFL is by far a passing league but the pass is only as dangerous as your ground game allows it to be. If a defense does not respect the run, then Dime and Nickel packages all day. The Giants are on the doorsteps of the Cowboys but they cannot let MV quotes stand in their way of making moves.