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New York Giants’ David Wilson Must Improve Pass Protection in 2013

February 8th, 2013 at 6:30 AM
By Paul Tierney

New York Giants running back David Wilson did not put up gaudy statistics during his rookie season. Wilson received just 71 carries for 358 yards and scored four touchdowns. In fact, in nine of Big Blue's first 10 games, Wilson did not receive more than three touches out of the backfield. He came on later in the season to provide a spark to a slumping offense; but, Wilson sat behind Ahmad Bradshaw and even Andre Brown for the majority of his 2012 campaign. His ball security issues (i.e.: one fumble against the Dallas Cowboys in week one) and overall lack of experience within the offense earned Wilson a spot on the bench for most of the season. However, in 2013, the Giants are going to rely heavily on Wilson's production.

'D30_5051a s' photo (c) 2011, VaMedia - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Although statistics usually define an average fan's evaluation of a running back's talent, the Giants coaching staff looks at it from a completely different perspective. Obviously, possessing the physical traits to run effectively both in space and between the tackles is important. However, being able to pass protect for Eli Manning is what ultimately determines who gets to play and who doesn't.

There are very few team's in the NFL capable of winning football games on the ground. Unless a team possesses a truly special talent in their backfield or an absolutely stellar defense, running the football is usually just a medium through which coaches open up the passing attack. That's not to say pounding the rock isn't important. It's an essential aspect of any successful offense. However, the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011 with the league's last ranked rushing attack. 

If David Wilson is going to truly become an integral aspect of Big Blue's offense, he needs to improve his pass protection. As long as he can run, he'll always have a spot on the roster. His speed is a weapon that will prove beneficial in a variety of ways for the remainder of his career. However, Eli Manning dropped back to throw 536 times last season. David Wilson was on the field for just a small handful of those snaps. Against the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson was bulldozed on Eli Manning's first interception. 

David Wilson is never going to be a fantastic pass blocker. His 5'9 frame is not going to allow him to keep defensive ends and linebackers running full speed at him for very long. The same goes for a lot of smaller running backs. However, he needs to be able to pass block well enough so that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride can feel confident in passing the ball with him in the game. 

if Wilson continues to portray an inability to protect Manning, the Giants are going to have a problem on their hands. Not only would Wilson's presence in a game tip teams off that the ball is likely staying on the ground, it's going to bring more blitzes as well. That means more people hitting Eli Manning and a greater chance he gets injured. When Wilson is not in the game, the Giants would see nickel and dime packages that would make throwing the football difficult.

As a starter, Wilson needs to be well rounded and perhaps the most important aspect of that is how he pass protects. He hasn't shown an ability to do so yet, but it's essential he improves in the regard for 2013. Or else he could see his role within the offense diminish.

Also…

Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas, Dallas Cowboys, David Wilson, Eli Manning, Football, Kevin Gilbride, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Super Bowl

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38 Responses to “New York Giants’ David Wilson Must Improve Pass Protection in 2013”

  1.  Krow says:

    If this is the case then why did we draft this guy?

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      Rare is it that a player comes into the league as a rookie and has everything down and plays all-around perfect football. Wilson struggled a season ago in pass protection (showed some improvement), but as a #1, he has to be at the top of his game. Jacobs, Ward, Bradshaw, Barber … all of those guys were above average in pass protections, with some (Jacobs) being top-notch.

      •  James Stoll says:

        Personally the view that an RB has to first and foremost be a pass protector I find backwards and upside down. A guy like Wilson probably breaks 3 big runs a game if he touches the ball 20x
        Why he can’t touch that ball unless he can also be the backstop to Diehl and Snee is beyond me.
        If your o-line is that horrendous upgrade it
        If you need another backfield blocker leave in the hynoscerous or put someone else back there with him
        Or maybe learn how to throw a screen or swing pass to the guy who can’t block
        But having Wilson’s talent ride the pine because he can’t simultaneously be an o-lineman is idiotic

        Here’s a thought: let’s begin an off-season assembly of reasons why Coughlin, Gilbride and Fewel should all be canned. Fewel gets a bye on this one.

        • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

          The concept is simple. 3 big runs aren’t worth much if he gets the franchise QB killed.

          •  sonnymooks says:

            If anyone ever asks how important a RBs ability to block is, show them film from Steve Youngs last game as a 49er.

            Lawrence Philips half-assed a block attempt, and the hit effectively ended Steve Youngs career.

            Philips couldn’t (or wouldn’t) block effectively, and it ended the franchise QBs career.

            Granted, Philips was a piece of garbage who is in jail now, but if he could have blocked, Young would have been able to extend his career longer.

  2.  rlhjr says:

    Tiki Barber had to learn too. He became a very physical runner and blocker.
    It takes time and willingness. And as much as I believe that backs should be able to pass protect, how about getting some offensive linemen who can I don’t’ know maybe sort of help out? Bennett, Hynuski and maybe Pascoe are the better blockers on the team.

    Notice I did not mention any offensive linemen. I think having Jacobs and Bradshaw has spoiled quite a few of us. But really, no offensive lineman playing for the Giants is known to blow people off the line. None are known for the ability to pull and lead down field or even on screens. And perhaps more importantly, none display the tenacity or tough minded attitude to assist a running back in getting two or three tough yards in a pinch. That is not going to feed the bulldog. Not ever.

    Wilson or any other back shouldn’t have to perform much more than emergency pickup of Blitzer’s who come free up the middle, or from the outside.
    In short running backs should be performing cleanup duty. Your O-line should be good for something.

    Jacobs may have been the most aggressive and willing pass blocker on the team. Easily better than many of the offensive linemen who played in front of him. And I am not even joking around. It could be due to injury or whatever else. But Giant offensive linemen are a bit on the wimpy non aggressive side.
    Yes Wilson and Brown can improve in this regard, but the guys in front of them are paid to be better.

    Sorry for being so critical of them, but when is the last time any of you saw a Giant offensive lineman throw a pan cake block? When’s the last time you saw a Giant offensive lineman lead a sweep or even participate in a trap block? These guys are pretty fckn bad. So don’t put it all on the backs.

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      Pass protection from running backs remains one of the most underrated and over-looked aspects of football. You could have the best OL in football and you still need your back to block well. If he doesn’t, your QB is killed and that’s all she wrote.

        •  James Stoll says:

          Hogwash I say Dan, hogwash
          How about an o-line instead?
          How about a few plays in the playbook that don’t require 5+ seconds to develop?

          • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

            See my previous link. It speaks to a reality many refuse to acknowledge.

            And like I said, you could have the greatest OL in history and you’ll still need a back that can block well or you’re going to lose your QB.

            •  James Stoll says:

              One play?
              Look, bad plays happen and you can’t be great at everything
              But if I had a back who I thought could take it to the house on any given play, I play him regardless of his pass protecting skills
              Perhaps if we had a running game that any team respected they wouldn’t be blitzing every play making pass protecting the most important RB skill in the quiver

              Is this the conversation they have in Minnesota with Peterson.
              In Cleveland with Richardson?
              Tampa with Martin?

              It is great if the RB can do everything aside from running as well as he can run, but how about a RB who can run?

            •  Hanshi says:

              Both. The Oline has to be better and Wilson has to improve at blocking. Wilson has the potential to improve. Our current Oline dosen’t.

  3.  rlhjr says:

    Jim I saw your post right after I posted mine. Had I been a bit later, I could have saved myself some typing.

    •  James Stoll says:

      Your’s was thoughtful
      Mine was a tad more biting
      Together, however, we have debunked the myth!

  4.  The Original G Man says:

    Thought I read reports that Wilson was near perfect in picking up his blocking assignments last year …

    •  James Stoll says:

      I think Gilbride plants these negative stories lest he be forced to conceive a run play other than the shotgun draw

    • Dan BentonDan Benton says:

      May want to take a look at the link I posted.

      The reports you are referring to suggested he was nearly flawless in practice.

  5.  F0XLIN says:

    I didn’t see him miss one assignment, although I do remember him getting blown up on a couple blocks, Sean Witherspoon comes to mind. That being said he got blown up slowed him down and Eli went untouched.

  6.  rlhjr says:

    Just so you know Dan, I fully support blocking ability in running backs and tight ends for that matter. I have no issue with what you are saying and demonstrating with your link.
    But most Sunday’s this offensive line is a $h|+ sandwhich.

    •  Hanshi says:

      I think we’re all saying the same thing. Wilson needs to improve but the Oline stinks.

    •  James Stoll says:

      The one thing Reese has yet to demonstrate is an eye for O-Line talent. He has drafted Beatty who is a B/B+ player; signed Baas as a FA who has been a pretty big disappointment; and scoured the scrap heap for “value” players such as Locklear and Andrews.
      Then there are the projects, failed and otherwise: Petrus, Brewer, McCants, Whimper, etc.
      Even when our O-Line was supposedly great, it was never really physical. During the Tiki years, it was Tiki’s vision and change of direction ability that made them look good
      In 2010, our best run production came when everyone was injured.
      The last 2 seasons we haven’t been able to run the ball for spit, except the few occasions when Andre Brown was featured, and again demonstrated great vision and surprising burst.
      As for pass protection, Eli is always the most pressured, if least sacked QB in the league. I’m not sure I can prove it, but I’m willing to bet that a full quarter of the picks he throws are due to the fact that the o-line just let’s people have straight shots.

      Like rlhjr said above, Dan is not wrong about the luxury of having an RB who is a great pass blocker, but unless and until the O-Line gets to at least an overall B+ quality, does it really matter?

      Of course, firing Coughlin, Gilbride and Fewel would go a long way towards improving the O-Line!!!!!!

  7.  jfunk says:

    To suggest that the RB doesn’t need to block if you have a decent o-line is preposterous. I assume the ignorance of those posts is merely feigned.

    On the other hand, I see no reason to assume Wilson can’t become a decent blocker due to his size. Tiki was no bigger and he became a very good blocker. And hey, he doesn’t even have to become very good, he just has to become passable. It’s OK if he gets run over every time he blocks, as long as he takes the defender down with him.

    •  demo3356 says:

      Some of the comments on here are truly mind numbing..

    •  Hanshi says:

      I don’t think any of us was saying that Wilson doesn’t need to improve his blocking. He needs to and I think he will. What I was suggesting is we need to improve the Oline as well. If we had one of the better Olines in the league, like we did not too long ago, it would cover up for some of Wilson’s flaws in his blocking. That’s not to say Wilson doesn’t need to improve in that area. I was just saying the Oline is bad.

  8.  demo3356 says:

    LOL!! every Running back regardless of how good he is HAS to be able to pass protect in today’s NFL.. Otherwise your franchise QB doesn’t make it through a month. Doesn’t matter how good your 5 man OL is when the other team sends 6 or 7 and you cant just put him out there on running plays or other DC’s will figure that tell out in 3 seconds.. I love how everything is an excuse for clowns to bash the coaching staff. Wilson wil be fine, he will be coached u on pass protection all off season and will be given the reigns as the feature back like everyone has asked for.

    •  Hanshi says:

      I agree Wilson will be fine. I’m just saying I would like to see us get back to having one of the better Olines in the league. That’s not to say that Wilson doesn’t need to improve in his blocking.

      •  demo3356 says:

        My post was not directed at you. I agree that it would be great having a dominant OL, just dont think that it has anything to do with Wilsons play time

    •  rlhjr says:

      Very true. That goes for today and yesterday’s NFL (SEE Joe Namath, Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer)

      The point is the Giant offensive line has to take up some slack.

      •  demo3356 says:

        nonsense… The giants OL could be the best in the NFL and the RB would stil have to pass protect and pick up the blitz.. Unless you can explain a way that a 5 man OL can stop 6,7 or 8 guys when the defense blitzes…

  9.  demo3356 says:

    I agree that the OLine needs to be improved, but dont think it was as bad as many here make it out to be. It actually graded out very well and I think a lot of the OL problems were linked to the same thing that hampered Eli all season…. Hakeem Nicks health.. I believe that as the season went on and teams realized that Nicks was just a shell of himself and not a real threat, they stopped worrying about him and didnt worry about keeping safety help over the top. This freed up another pass rusher or blitzer.
    I know I’ll get clobbered as a homer for this post, but think about it. If Nicks is healthy and he and Cruz are torching defenses, the DC is going to add coverage to back end to stop big play. If Nicks is not a threat (nor was Bennett in 2nd half of season) teams can key on Cruz and get to Manning, whether by Blitzing him or blanketing his targets and getting coverage sacks.
    I’d love to see the OL stats from the games where Nicks was an actual factor vs the ones he was just a decoy

    •  Hanshi says:

      Let’s be generous and call our Oline average. I don’t think average is good enough to protect Eli and open up holes for Wilson. You may be right in saying the Oline is better than they’re given credit for but change and improvment is still needed. I don’t want to go into next season with the Oline performing like it did last season.

    •  James Stoll says:

      Your post reminds me of the 2008 excuses. The entire offense’s fate hinged on 1 WR’s health. In ’08 it was Plax; last year Nicks. Yeah they were the best at their position at the time, but what does that say about a team that can’t overcome injury to a position player?

      •  Hanshi says:

        I don’t think any team overcomes an injury to a guy like Plax or Nicks. They just do their best to compensate. That doesn’t mean they can’t win but they won’t be the same team. The Giant won in Washington when Plax missed his first game after shooting himself but they weren’t the same team and couldn’t pull off a repeat.

    •  rlhjr says:

      It is NOT clobbering time bro. You are about spot on

      When Nicks, Cruz and X are hitting on all cylinders, the wait time for most patterns is between 2 to three seconds. Unless the pattern is pretty deep (20 yards or more) Eli gets the ball out pretty well.

      And that may well be why our O-line has survived scrutiny for as long as it has.
      I’ll give the Giant O-line this much, all team’s pass protections benefits from having a pair or trio of receivers who handle their business. AKA create separation and run good patterns. That cuts down on how long the QB has to hold it in order to make a play.

      Remember that Toomer, Shockey, Smith, Boss and Plax were all good at getting open and Toomer and Smith were well above average pattern runners. Our O-line was better, but they were technicians, not brutes.

      But when breakdowns occur or just plain good coverage, that extra second and a half comes from a good blocking offensive line.

      Finally, when you OL can perform screens, pulls, traps and straight run blocks, the defense is going to be off balance much of the time. And you can slap them silly with a plethora of plays and play action.

  10.  demo3356 says:

    UUT

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