EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J –** Tom Coughlin has long craved offensive balance, but lately his attack has become more reliant on moving the ball through the air.
Through the first five games of the season, the Giants averaged 121 rushing yards and 223.6 passing yards. In the last three games, the ground game average has been 92.7 yards, while the passing yardage has risen to 258.3. The Giants lost all three of those games.
Those contests coincided with the loss of running back Rashad Jennings to a knee injury. Jennings ran for 176 yards in a victory over Houston in September and averaged 4.4 yards on his 91 attempts before he was hurt on Oct. 5 against Atlanta.
His replacement, rookie Andre Williams, now leads the team with 101 carries – for 302 yards, a 3.0-yard average. In the loss last Monday night to Indianapolis, Williams gained just 22 yards on 12 carries (though he did catch a pass that gained 24 yards to set up his one-yard touchdown run).
On Sunday, the Giants will be in Seattle to try to break their losing streak against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. In the raucous atmosphere of CenturyLink Field, they will almost certainly have to be more productive in the run game than they have been since Jennings was sidelined. Jennings returned to practice this week, but is listed as doubtful for the game - so the onus will again fall on Williams, who believes he and the team are up to the task.
"Not everybody was firing on all cylinders (last week)," Williams said. "We need to execute better as an offense. We really have to have our head in the game for four quarters. We played a better second half and really didn't have too much going on in the first half. We just have to play four quarters of football."
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was asked yesterday to evaluate Williams' performance.
"He made a nice play in the passing game, coming out of the backfield on a burst, making a nice catch, turning up field and breaking a tackle and almost getting it into the end zone," McAdoo said. "When we get him cleanly to the second level, he does a nice job there. We need to do a better job up front. I need to do a better job. We need to get him some clean looks at some runs."
Perhaps no one has helped William' development more than Jennings, The two running backs have watched hours of game tape together and Jennings is in the youngster's ear at practice.
"He's been trying to get me to understand patience and different defensive fronts, how I'm supposed to check for tendencies when I watch film," Williams said. "Certain plays will develop faster than others. Some will develop slower, depending on the schemes. He's just letting me know, 'Versus this front, you're going to need to be a little more patient. This has to develop first before you make this cut.' Certain things like that."
Jennings often speaks of visualizing a play before it happens. He's trying to get Williams to do the same.
"It's one thing to visualize it and then watch it unfold before you," Williams said. "But I know it definitely helps you just get close to that ladder when you feel like you know what's going to go on before it actually happens. That's definitely something that I practice as well."
The Giants hope he can put the tactic to good use in the game on Sunday.
- Cornerback Zack Bowman returned to practice on a limited basis after spending a night in the hospital with a stomach virus. He is listed as questionable for the game Sunday – though he left no doubt that he will play. Bowman is expected to start in place of Prince Amukamara, who was placed on injured reserve this week with a torn biceps.
"As you would expect for a guy that has been in the hospital, he didn't seem to have an overly amount of energy, but he is out there and he is positive," Coughlin said. "I think another day with a good night's rest, some nourishment, etcetera, etcetera, hopefully he will be playing."
Also questionable are defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), who practiced for the first time this week, and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf), who did not play Monday night. Both players were limited.
Coughlin on Jennings: "He practiced two days this week. He is running around and doing all those kinds of things. We are going to have to make sure that he is ready to compete in a game."
Five players are listed as probable for the Seattle game: guards Weston Richburg (ankle) and Adam Snyder (knee), cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring), wide receiver Preston Parker (ankle) and punter Steve Weatherford (ankle/back). Richburg, Snyder and Parker practiced fully, DRC and Weatherford were limited.
- Coughlin always plays loud crowd noise at practice prior to a read game, but the volume was pumped up this week for the visit to CenturyLink Field, one of the NFL's loudest venues.
"We always have noise, but this is special noise," Coughlin said. "Most of it is crowd stuff. The idea of the guys responding to even the crowd noise; I found years ago when we would just go offense with the noise and not the defense, the defensive players wanted the noise, too. Not quite that loud, but they wanted it."
- The Giants are 7-19 in regular-season games against defending Super Bowl champions (plus 3-0 in the postseason). They last met the reigning champions in 2011, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the regular season, 38-35, but defeated them six weeks later in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game, 37-20.
Their last regular-season victory over a defending champion was on Dec. 13, 1998, when they beat the 13-0 Denver Broncos, 20-16.
- The Giants are 28-29 in games following a Monday night game, including 10-8 since 2000.
- The Giants lead their series with the Seahawks, 9-7. They are 3-4 in Seattle, including 1-2 in CenturyLink Field. They last played in Seattle on Nov. 7, 2010, when they enjoyed a 41-7 rout.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Seahawks