While Eli Manning continues to climb up all-time passing lists and boast a top-10 offense through the air, the Giants' ground game is making history for the wrong reasons.
The Giants have not rushed for 100 yards in any of their first six games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time in franchise history that they have failed to do so in six consecutive games. Furthermore, they are the only team in the NFL without a 100-yard rushing game this season.
That's one of the issues that surely keeps Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff up at night, especially with the talent they have in Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen, and Orleans Darkwa.
With the exception of Darkwa, who plays primarily on special teams, the other three have split the carries with no bell cow emerging. That led to Coughlin being asked today if there needs to be one.
"Well, that sort of prevails and it did prevail a little bit last week, so it works itself out," the head coach said. "We have four of them active; Darkwa is obviously a special teamer, but also ran the ball well in preseason. The more and more we use the three wide receiver set, the more 34 [Vereen] gets involved, too."
The most rushing attempts a Giants running back has in a game this season is Andre Williams, who carried the ball 14 times in a win over Washington. However, they amounted to just 29 yards as the second-year pro is averaging 2.8 yards per attempt on the year.
Overall, Jennings leads the group with 66 rushes for 243 yards, followed by Williams (45 for 127) and Vereen (29 for 101). Of course, Vereen's specialty is catching passes, and the first-year Giant has 21 receptions for 214 yards.
"I don't know that it's not working, [Williams] doesn't have a lot of carries," Coughlin said. "He hits the holes, he does whatever we ask him to do there. Perhaps it's the defense, perhaps it's whatever. I don't think it really has anything to do with what he's not been able to do."
Last year Williams led the team in rushing as a rookie, and more touches might help him get into a groove once again.
"For Rashad, it doesn't seem to be [hard to get into a groove]," Coughlin said. "For Shane, it doesn't seem to be. I do think that, quite frankly, Williams probably needs more carries. But under the present system, it's something that we have to deal with."
The ground game was one of the many topics surrounding the Giants on Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Here are the three takeaways from the day:
1. GIANTS D PREPARES FOR CASSEL, WRINKLES
Over their bye week, the Cowboys made the switch from Brandon Weeden to Matt Cassel at quarterback while Tony Romo remains out with a broken collarbone. Craig Johnson, the Giants' current running backs coach, used to coach Cassel in Minnesota, where he was in charge of the quarterbacks form 2011-2013.
"So you have a little bit of background with him," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. "So there's a little bit of information there. But look, the guys play the game and we go out and try to coach them. Again, I don't think they'll change the scheme too much.
"It is a bye week for them, so you can throw a wrinkle in there that you wouldn't normally be able to do, so we'll anticipate that. We don't know what that will be, but I think they're well established in who they are and what they do. I think [Dallas offensive coordinator] Scott [Linehan] does a great job with them and we'll try to defend what they've been doing."
2. ODELL FOCUSED ON SUNDAY
Like last week, second-year wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has missed practiced because of a hamstring leading up the Giants' game against the Cowboys on Sunday. While coach Tom Coughlin hopes it's a short-term plan, it might become the norm as long as Beckham is ready by game day and continues to lead all receivers like he did in Philadelphia. The Giants have a recovery day tomorrow and then practice on Saturday, the day before the NFC East matchup at MetLife Stadium.
"It's just kind of one of those things," Beckham said. "You've got to maintain and get as many reps as you can, whether they're physical or mental. So right now, like I said, get as many mental reps as you can and make sure you come out prepared, stick to the game plan."
3. BEASON & 'UNGA MISS PRACTICE; INJURY REPORT
While cornerback Prince Amukamara (pectoral) has already been ruled out as expected, middle linebacker Jon Beason was added to the injury report today and did not practice with a sore knee. And neither did is backup, Uani 'Unga, who is dealing with a neck injury. Beckham and fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) did not participate. Linebackers Devon Kennard (hamstring) and Jonathan Casillas, cornerbacks Trumaine McBride (groin) and Trevin Wade (concussion), wide receiver Rueben Randle (hamstring), and defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. (hamstring) were limited.
From the Dallas side, wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot), safety Danny McCray (not injury related), and defensive ends Greg Hardy (illness) and David Irving (back) did not practice. Tight end James Hanna (ankle) was limited while wide receiver Brice Butler (hamstring) and defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) were full-go.
Playmakers on Cowboys first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike