The 2011 Giants are not a conventional Tom Coughlin-coached team in one important respect. Actually, they're not a typical Giants team, either.
These Giants have struggled to run the ball unlike any NFL team Coughlin has coached and any Giants team in a long time. In five games, they have rushed for 419 yards, an average of 83.8 yards a game that leaves them 28thin the NFL. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time they had that few rushing yards at this juncture in the season was 2002, when they had 411. That team rallied to finish with an average of 117.2 rushing yards a game and made the playoffs.
The Giants have not finished a season averaging 83.8 or fewer rushing yards a game since 1945, when the figure was 76.9. They have not been ranked 28th in rushing since 2003, when their per-game average was 97.4 yards.
The Giants' 3.17 yards-per-carry average exceeds only Tennessee's (3.0). They last averaged so few yards a carry over a full season in 1953 (2.64).
The Giants have an NFL-low one run longer than 15 yards (Ahmad Bradshaw's 37-yarder at Philadelphia). They have not had a back rush for more than 86 yards, the first time since 1998 that's happened in a season's first five games. The Giants have not had a 100-yard rusher since Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs each crossed the century mark against Minnesota last Dec. 3.
Cleary, these are not the kind of numbers the Giants want to post in their ground game. But 11 games remain to improve upon them and the history of both Coughlin and the team suggests they will do exactly that.
This is Coughlin's 16th season as an NFL head coach (eighth with the Giants after eight with Jacksonville). He has long stressed the correlation between a successful rushing attack and winning and the record demonstrates he's correct. Under Coughlin, the Giants have rushed for at least 100 yards in 77 of 117 regular season games. They are 53-24 (.688) when they do and 15-25 (.375) when they don't.
Coughlin's first 15 NFL teams averaged 126.2 rushing yards a game. In Coughlin's first seven seasons here, the Giants averaged 133.7 yards per game on the ground. The fewest rushing yards a Coughlin-coached team has averaged over a full season is exactly 100.0 (the 2001 Jaguars). The highest is 157.4, the Giants' league-leading average in 2008. Last year, the Giants averaged 137.5 rushing yards a game.
In the 25 seasons from 1986-2010, the Giants averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game only three times – in 1987 (when they played three strike-replacement games), 1999 and 2003.
Coughlin's track record and the Giants' success running the ball over a long time period suggest they will improve their rushing totals. It also indicates they must if the Giants are to have a successful season.
*Here's another reason Coughlin preaches the importance of offensive balance. The Giants finished with 395 net passing yards in their loss Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks. It was the sixth time a Coughlin-coached team had at least 370 net passing yards in a game. His record in those games is 0-6: 0-3 with Jacksonville and 0-3 with the Giants. The most passing yards a Coughlin team has had in a victory is 368, in a 34-31 overtime win over Atlanta in 2009.
*The Giants' problems in the run game have forced them to face many third-and-long situations. On Sunday, they were one-for-12 on third down attempts vs. Seattle (their only success was Eli Manning's 68-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz). They are two-for-22 on third down in their two losses. Against the Seahawks, the Giants needed seven yards or more on nine of their 12 third-down attempts. The shortest distance they needed to cover was two yards – and that was with 24 seconds remaining and the outcome already decided.
This season, the Giants have converted just 18 of 62 third-down opportunities, a 29.0 percent success rate that is 29th in the NFL. That is their lowest percentage through five games since 1999, when they were 18-for-70 (25.7 percent).
*Manning threw for 420 yards against Seattle, one week after passing for 321 yards. They were the first back-to-back 300-yard games of Manning's career. This is the first time the Giants had consecutive 300-yard passing games since Kerry Collins did it on Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 2003. Manning's 420 yards was the fifth-highest total by a quarterback in the NFL this year.
*Manning's was the fifth 400-yard performance by a Giants quarterback. The Giants are 2-3 in those games. If a quarterback throws for 400 yards, he's more likely to lose than win, which is probably more proof of the importance of a strong rushing attack. Since the start of 2002 season (the last 10 seasons), teams with a 400-yard passer are 30-41-1.
*In the last two games, Hakeem Nicks had 162 receiving yards at Arizona and Cruz had 161 vs. Seattle. It is the first time in Giants history they had two different receivers with at least 160 yards each in consecutive games. They are the seventh and eighth largest one-game receiving yardage totals in the NFL this season.
*Cruz had eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Seattle rookie receiver Doug Baldwin had eight receptions for 136 yards and a score. Both players entered the NFL as free agents. According to Elias, it's the first time since the 1970 merger that two opposing undrafted receivers had stats that were at least as good as 8-136-1 while playing in the same game.
*The Giants this week host Buffalo in their final game before the bye. With a victory, they will tie Dallas for the NFL's best record in games prior to a regular season bye:
|New York Giants||17||5||.773|
|San Fransico 49ers||14||8||.636|
|New Orleans Saints||14||8||.636|
Coughlin is 10-5 in pre-bye games, including 5-2 with the Giants.
*The Giants (who committed five turnovers) lost Sunday despite forcing three Seattle turnovers, an unusual pairing. Under Coughlin, the Giants are 28-5 in games in which they have at least three takeaways. Coughlin is 49-15 in such games in his career.
*Osi Umenyiora's 1.5 sacks vs. the Seahawks increased his career total to 63.5 and moved him past Keith Hamilton (63.0) and into fourth place on the Giants' career list. Leonard Marshall is third with 79.5.
*Lawrence Tynes has made 130 consecutive extra points, three shy of Pete Gogolak's franchise record.
*Jason Pierre-Paul's 7.0 sacks tie him with Philadelphia Jason Babin for second in the NFL, 1.5 sacks behind Minnesota's Jared Allen.
*Linebacker Michael Boley is tied with Baltimore's Haloti Ngata for the NFL lead with three fumble recoveries.