The New York Giants have showcased a dominant pass defense throughout the past few weeks, but their struggles in defending the run have become evident. Their run defense has emerged as the Achilles heel of their defensive unit.
As they gear up to host the Washington Commanders in a must-win divisional matchup, the Giants must prepare to neutralize Washington’s ground attack.
The Giants’ run defense has struggled this season
The Giants have allowed the third most rushing yards (796) and touchdowns (seven) to running backs throughout the first six weeks of the season. They have already allowed two running backs, James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals and Devon Achane of the Miami Dolphins, to rush for over 100 yards against them.
Additionally, with the exception of Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, Big Blue has allowed opposing running backs to score at least one touchdown on them each week, highlighting the need for improvement in defending the run.
Washington has leaned on their pass game throughout the season; however, with the success the G-Men have had against receivers, they may choose to exploit the Giants’ struggling run defense and focus on their ground game.
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Brian Robinson Jr. leading the charge for the Commanders
Brian Robinson Jr. has emerged as the clear RB1 in Washington’s backfield. Known for his tough running style and ability to break tackles, Robinson has been a reliable force, accumulating 77 carries for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite not finding the end zone against the Giants in his career, Robinson has had success on the ground, tallying 33 carries for 185 yards in just two games.
As the focal point of the Commanders’ rushing attack, the second-year pro could pose a significant threat to Big Blue’s defense, especially if he enters the game hungry to score.
Experienced depth behind Robinson
Joining Robinson in the backfield is three-year veteran Antonio Gibson. While Gibson’s rushing numbers might not jump off the page with 16 carries for 69 yards, his versatility as a receiver adds an extra dimension to Washington’s offense.
In college, Gibson showcased his skills as a slot receiver/running back hybrid, and he has expressed a desire to be utilized more as a receiver this season. So far, he has accumulated 13 receptions for 133 yards and one receiving touchdown.
Gibson has performed well as a running back against the Giants in his career, tallying 63 carries for 325 yards and two touchdowns in six games. It will be interesting to see if the Commanders decide to capitalize on his success as a runner or utilize him more in the passing game.
A sleeper in Washington’s backfield
A sleeper in the backfield is rookie RB Chris Rodriguez Jr. Rodriguez was taken in the sixth round of the 2023 draft and is known to be a physical, downhill runner. He is difficult to take down and thrives on gaining yards after contact.
Rodriguez has only played in two games so far this season but has already racked up seven carries for 30 yards and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Washington loves what he can bring to the backfield, and they may choose to give him more touches against a struggling Giants run defense.
While Washington’s backfield certainly poses a threat, Big Blue’s defense has recently been showing signs of life. With players like linebacker Bobby Okereke starting to emerge, the unit seems to have found its rhythm. This newfound momentum raises the question of whether the Giants can finally find success in defending the run.