By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Saquon Barkley is gone.
Devonta Freeman was signed to pick up the slack.
Wayne Gallman is still searching to find his niche in his fourth season.
Dion Lewis hasn’t gotten on track in the backfield, and has only seven catches out of the backfield.
Such is the current state of the Giants’ running backs. Quarterback Daniel Jones was left out of the mix, but he is the team’s leading rusher with 137 yards in four games and also has the longest run from scrimmage (27 yards).
A lack of an effective running game all season has elevated the pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones, who is seeking to find his own level ground.
This could all change or remain the same against the woelful –but still dangerous –Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
Three years ago, Barkley was viewed as the answer to the running game conundrum that plagued the team for several years. He supposedly had the cure with a breakout rookie season, setting numerous team records and being hailed as the league’s next elite runner.
Since then, the team’s running back issues have reverted back to pre-Barkley. Mainly because the once phenom hasn’t been able to stay on the field for a significant amount of time the past two seasons. A high ankle sprain and an ACL tear have begun to raise some doubts on whether or not he can endure the long haul.
Even when he was healthy this year, Barkley didn’t have enough big moments, likely mainly due to lack of production from his offensive line.
Freeman, a once Atlanta workhorse, has shown signs on why he wasn’t immediately signed after his release. He did have 15 touches for a total of 68 yards,33 on the ground and 35 through the air against the Rams last Sunday.
Gallman ran for a team-high 45 yards in the same game.
Then there is the other quandary of whether offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can make the right calls or is he making the right calls.
So, the question remains. Will the Giants find a consistent running game over the next 12 weeks beginning Sunday?
A huge part of that decision will depend on the offensive line, which is still searching for stability. They have allowed 14 sacks and haven’t produced enough holes for the backs.
Nick Gatess till doesn’t look totally comfortable at center, and top pick Andrew Thomas has been on his heels mostly the first four games.
Guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler have been steady and they are still among the elite at the position ranked by Pro Football Focus. Rookie Matt Peart apparently will take over at right tackle for Cameron Fleming.
The Giants can take advantage of major opportunity when they travel to Dallas Sunday afternoon. Last week, the Cowboys gave up 307 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Cleveland, and they have allowed an average of 40 points per game.
It would be a surprise if they put a 40-spot on the Cowboys considering they are averaging a league-low 11.8 points per game. Kicker Graham Gano has accounted for 27 of their 47 points.
A bigger surprise would be if the Giants can get their running game in gear in Big D. If they can, the Giants would bring the offense some much-needed stability.
It can all change in Dallas or remain saddled as an irrelevant entity.