As we start training camp for the 2013 season, this is the best moment to remind ourselves of the opportunity it brings for the players, the coaches and the entire team.
Players see the drudgery, and even Strahan complained about camp. 15 year veterans get to complain about the monotony. For the rest of the team, they need the work and the repetitions. Practice may not seem like a big deal to those of us who just turn the TV on Sunday at 1PM, turn it off at 4PM, and then rinse and repeat the following week. To professional football players, practice is an opportunity to get better. It allows players to get the mental part down so that they can be automatic on Sunday. And if practice during the week is the key to winning games, then practice during Training Camp is the key to winning seasons.
Who are the key players in 2013? Obviously they are all important, because football is the most complete team sport. While we can cite Hakeem Nicks, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul as three (previously injured) stars who are very important to 2013, the one we believe that is incrementally more important is David Wilson. David Wilson, you ask?! YES, DAVID WILSON.
If the NFL is all about getting better from one year to the next, where is the team going to improve noticeably? This NY Giants blogger makes the case for Running Back to be one of the sources for this team's resurgence.
David Wilson can be a vital part of the difference in 2013 vs 2012 because he has a skill set that can make the Giants offense much more dynamic and effective. The NFL is a passing league. Stop thinking of your Running Back as a runner. Start thinking of him as another adjunct in the passing game. And David Wilson is tailor-made for giving the Giants a dimension to their passing game that can be better than that of Tiki Barber.
We did not like the choice of David Wilson for the Giants in R1 of the 2012 draft. Why? It had nothing to do with Wilson as a player. It had everything to do with his position. The RB position has been marginalized by the passing league. Quickly we will regurgitate all of the arguments in one sentence- between injuries, shorter careers, platooning, the lack of enforcement of holding at the OL, and most importantly the Giants great strength in drafting terrific RBs in later rounds of the draft, why use your #1 on a RB? But Reese chose to do that, and now it is time for the Giants coaching staff to LEVERAGE that player.
It is not the job of coaches to coach to their system. It is the job of coaches to build a system around the strengths of their players. Bill Walsh did not invent the revolutionary West Coast offense (coined, fyi by Bill Parcells) on the West Coast. He invented it as the Offensive Coordinator for Paul Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals. He had a lousy QB and needed to design the offense around that deficiency. Hence the short passing routes so that the QB could handle the job. Back to the Giants, Kevin Gilbride has been entrusted with the Round 1 pick of a Running Back with tremendous speed and quickness. He has that tool in the Year 2013, when passing is much more effective. Combine these and build out the offense with many more plays that get the ball in the hands of Wilson IN OPEN SPACE.
In case you have not noticed it, the Giants are not especially adept in these RB passes. This is where training camp fits in. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Practice is required for these plays, especially the choreographed "sell" of the screen. Readers here do not need to hear me ask for more screens yet again, so I will not subject you to anymore of that. But another play which takes a "sell" is the intended dumpoff pass to the RB while the LBers are still backpedaling into their assignments. When was the last time we have seen the Giants offense INTENTIONALLY run a dumpoff (checkdown)? The answer was with Tiki Barber. Interestingly, Barber left after 2006, when Hufnagel was let go and Gilbride became the OC. So it is up to Gilbride to expand his playbook and leverage the talents of Wilson.
Of course Wilson has the tools to do so much more than pedestrian plays like intentional dumpoffs and screens. He has the blazing speed to make plays possible that would not and should not have been run previously. Bradshaw had the skills to do many things, as he could make players miss and he could certainly break tackles. Wilson can make people miss and then he can go to the house. He can get lined up wide. He can run that wheel route that Jacobs killed the Eagles with. In summary, he can be used almost any and every way a RB can be used. Together with (hopefully) a healthy Nicks, an improved Manning, a solidified OL, the added depth of Louis Murphy and a new TE, the Giants offense should be able to do some very special things this season.
Hope spring eternal. And that hope begins with the mundane practices that form the bedrock of the season's success. We think the Giants can do so much more this season than last season. The Super Bowl hangover is gone and Wilson is one of the players who can make a much bigger difference in 2013.