Always in New York, Giants fans will constantly be butting heads with Jets fans. Although in recent years the Giants have prevailed over the Jets in almost every possible category, including Super Bowl victories, it is still intersting to see which team dominates each position. I will do my best to ignore my own favoritism in what I hoped to be an unbiased analysis, and if you agree or disagree feel free to share your comments below.
The first position to compare is an important one, and a position the neither team definitely has the better players. At running back, both teams will now be dealing with new starters and it will be interesting to see which team’s running backs perform better.
First Category: Carrying
As always the case with tailbacks, one of the most important jobs they have is ball security. Nothing is more deflating to an offense then to give the ball to the other team off a foolish fumble. Chris Ivory, who will most likely be the starter for the Jets, has shown major improvement in this category. In his rookie season Ivory received the most touches he has ever had, although they came with four fumbles on the year. He averaged a fumble about once in every 35 carries, which is not a favorable statistic. However, in his 119 carries since then he has not fumbled once. Another newly acquired Jets tailback, Mike Goodson, has also had fumbling issues in his past. In his first two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Goodson averaged one fumble every 25 carries, and only managed to break the plain into the endzone three times. And finally, Bilal Powell breaks the spell of sub-par carrying. Last year, Powell did not lose possession of the football a single time in 110 rushes.
The now Bradshaw-less Giants running attack consists of David Wilson, Andre Brown, and Ryan Torain. Many of us remember David Wilson’s first career game in which he fumbled a return and sulked back to the sideline in tears. However, not including returns Wilson only fumbled on one occasion out of 71 rushing attempts. Even better yet, Andre Brown did not fumble a single time in his 73 rushing attempts from last year. As a matter of fact, Brown has yet to fumble in his short NFL career and if Wilson can fix some of his carrying woes the two of them could become quite the possession-oriented halfback duo. And as for Ryan Torain (who will likely be given a much larger workload now that Bradshaw is gone) has had just three fumbles in his previous stint with the Redskins, and he averaged 1 fumble every 74 carries. All the Giant’s running backs with the potential to get a decent amount of carries this year certainly have the ability to hold on to the football.
Better Carrying Team: Giants
Second Category: Rushing Efficiency
Although carrying is very important for halfbacks, if the rusher isn’t racking up many yards then his offense won’t benefit from their attempts. Chris Ivory has averaged 5.1 yards per carry (YPC) in his NFL career, including a 5.2 YPC average in his first, most productive season. Mike Goodson has averaged a sub-par 4.5 YPC, and in his breakout season he tallied 4.4 YPC, which is by no means the greatest. And finally, Bilal Powell managed exactly 4 .0 YPC last year for the Jets. However, the majority of Powell’s rushing attempts were in short yardage scenarios. Also, in a rushing attack headed by the explosiveness of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, the short yet stout tailback will most likely only be needed in short yardage situations.
Last year for the Giants, the rookie David Wilson ran the ball just 71 times, although in these 71 attempts he averaged exactly 5.0 YPC, which is just 0.1 yards behind Ivory’s career average. Andre Brown, who last year was used similarly to how the Jets used Bilal Powell, averaged 5.3 YPC, not to mention that he scored a touchdown approximately one out of every 9 rushes. And as for Torain, the former Arizona State star has averaged just 4.2 YPC in his NFL career, although when he was used frequently in Washington he averaged 4.5 YPC, which is a slight improvement from his career average. Comparing from the Jets projected depth chart to the Giants projected depth chart, Ivory beats out Wilson’s average by a meager tenth of a yard, while the Giants win the second and third string YPC battles by 0.8 yards and 0.2 yards respectively.
More Efficient Rushing Team: Giants
Category 3: Explosiveness
How many avid sports fans remember Arian Foster’s 1 yard touchdown run against the Jaguars last year in Week 2? Probably not many, although I’d bet that quite a few of you remember Marshawn Lynch’s “beast mode” touchdown run against the Saints in the first round of the playoffs a few years ago.
Last year, in a game against the Falcons, we all so just the kind of explosiveness that Chris Ivory plans to bring to the Jets. In case you missed this play last year or forgot about it in the offseason, you can watch it here. If you have time to watch it, it is definitely a must-see. Also, last year on Oakland Mike Goodson was able to show his explosiveness off a 64-yard touchdown catch. And although Bilal Powell did not emerge as an explosive player last year (his longest run was 18 yards), Ivory and Goodson should have him covered in this department.
As for the Giants, last year David Wilson managed just two 30+ yard runs, and they were against extremely weak defenses in the Browns and the Saints. Although his speed is certainly a dynamic characteristic, Wilson just doesn’t have the ability to consistently break a tackle or even multiple tackles in any given play. Andre Brown also managed just one 30+ yard run, although admittedly he has put up a string of solid runs. However, the Giants’ running backs explosiveness just can’t compare to that of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson, who will both be breaking off big plays in the green and white this year.
More Explosive Rushing Team: Jets
Category 4: Dual Threat Option
It is always beneficial to have a tailback that can both run down the defense’s throats and be able to get a few yards consistently on a screen or flat. If a halfback is both a threat in the receiving and passing game, defenses can either choose to ignore one of these leaving the running/passing holes wide open, or if they account for both it will leave other players open for a nice gain.
On the Jets, Chris Ivory has yet to make his mark as a receiving back. Even on the Saints with a quarterback who spreads the ball around as much as Drew Brees, Ivory managed just three catches in three years. Goodson, on the other hand, is just the opposite of Ivory. Last year for Oakland, Goodson was targeted 16 times and had 16 receptions, meaning that quarterbacks can count on him to catch the ball. Also, in his best season on the Panthers Goodson was thrown to 57 times, catching 40 of these passes for over 300 yards. Not only is he a prime target out of the backfield, but he has shown he can make plays after the catch. As previously stated, last year he had a 64 yard touchdown off a screen play in week two against the Dolphins.
The Giants tailbacks, however, have yet to proven themselves as prominent players in the passing game. Despite David Wilson’s tantalizing speed, he managed just four catches in the season for 34 yards and a touchdown. Although it is nice to see that Wilson averages 8.5 yards a catch, he is not being targeted often by Eli Manning and has failed to develop into a dual threat back. Andre Brown isn’t a whole lot better. The 227 pond running back caught just 12 balls last year for 86 yards and 0 touchdowns. Although the two Giants’ halfbacks easily beat Ivory’s receiving numbers, they are just no match for Mike Goodson.
Team With Better Dual Threat RBs: Jets
OVERALL BETTER RUNNINGBACKS: GIANTS
As much as I, an avid Jets fan, hate to admit it, the Giants have the edge on the Jets in this running back battle. While the Jets show more explosiveness and have a receiving back in Mike Goodson, when it comes to being successful you have to focus on fundamentals. Aside from one mishap, Wilson rarely fumbles the football and Andre Brown has not fumbled once in his NFL career. To have that type of insurance every time you run the football is extremely beneficial. Also, statistically speaking the Giants’ backs on average run for more yards than the Jets’ running backs. As much as it is cool to have backs breaking off 56 yard touchdown runs or 64 yard touchdown catches, it is even better to have backs that will give you 5 yards a carry and can guarantee you ball security. Now, after this season this may all change if The Jets’ backs prosper in a new system and the Giants’ backs go through a sophomore slump. However, right now the Giants running backs are currently better.
Please, feel free to voice your opinion in the comment section below and I look forward to hearing some of your counterarguments.