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Tom Coughlin sticks with backfield-by-committee approach

Shane Vereen of the New York Giants scores

Shane Vereen of the New York Giants scores a second-quarter touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As anyone who has watched the Giants play this season knows, there are no bells on their cows.

The team began the season rotating three running backs and since early on has gone with a rotation of four throughout their games, often appearing to make changes just for the sake of doing so rather than with any strategy or goal in mind.

“I would like to be able to say to you that in certain games we ran it 30 times and this guy carried it 20,” Tom Coughlin said, “but it has not happened that way.”

Coughlin broke down the responsibilities of each a bit on Thursday.

“[Shane] Vereen is the third-down guy and he comes in on long yardage as well,” he said. “Maybe it’s attached a little bit to personnel, but that’s kind of the way it is. The other three guys [Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Orleans Darkwa], they play on first and second down primarily although you are going to see 23 [Jennings] in there on third down as well because he’s a good protector. They all have different levels of skill and we try to take full advantage of that.”

What that leaves the Giants with is a backfield that can never seem to find any rhythm. Jennings leads the Giants in carries with 111, which ranks 32nd in the NFL in total and 38th in the NFL in carries per game. The four backs have combined for 911 rushing yards.

The last time the Giants had a backfield with this kind of committee approach was in 2008 when the “Earth, Wind and Fire” dynamic of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw handled most of the carries. In that season both Jacobs and Ward ran for more than 1,000 yards. This year, the group may have trouble reaching 1,000 yards combined through 12 games.

The one benefit the Giants have gotten from the system is that they don’t have any injuries at running back, an issue that hurt them late in the last few seasons.

“You have to remember, we’ve had four healthy guys for the whole season,” Coughlin said. “Give us a little bit of credit for thinking that way as well.”

Sure, OK. But what good are healthy bodies if they aren’t productive and used properly?

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