New York Giants: Examining David Wilson's Breakout Performance vs. New Orleans

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 10, 2012

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Giants are going to overcome some clear flaws and make another Super Bowl run, Eli Manning can't do everything on his own offensively.

He'll need help from the running game. 

And if the Giants' running game is going to assist Manning by helping the offense maintain balance and keep opposing defenses honest, Ahmad Bradshaw can't do everything on his own.

He'll need help from David Wilson.

Bradshaw continues to show us that he has the skill set, but not the endurance to survive a full workload over 16-plus games. The veteran running back has been hobbled for much of the season and has received 15 or fewer carries in five of his last six starts. 

With Andre Brown out indefinitely and Bradshaw dealing with several bumps and bruises, episode No. 1 of The David Wilson Show aired on Sunday nationally, with the rookie No. 32 overall pick breaking free of Tom Coughlin's doghouse with a 100-yard, three-touchdown performance in a win over the New Orleans Saints.

Let's take a look at Wilson's breakout game at MetLife in order to draw some knee-jerk-style conclusions regarding what the electric Virginia Tech product might be able to do for Big Blue during the final three weeks of the regular season and, if they're lucky, the playoffs.


Impact on Offense

Wilson is not a good blocker, but few rookie backs are. Eventually, the Giants will expect him to become better at that part of the game before he gets regular reps on all downs.

Right now, though, the Giants aren't ashamed to admit they're just giving him the ball and saying "Go!" 

But even that isn't so simple, as Wilson revealed on his six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. On that play, Wilson had nowhere obvious to go at the outset. 

Rather than panic or just go full steam ahead immediately, the rookie showed off his patience by slowing his stride while the right hole opened up, and that's when he exploded for six points. Andddd there it is...

He's also elusive, as four Saints defenders got their hands on him on this 21-yard gain in the fourth quarter...

Oh, and the power. This is a battle the 205-pound Wilson would win against the 240-pound Curtis Lofton. And with all of those Saints defenders flocking, he still wouldn't go down until hitting that spot I've marked with a red x.

Of course, speed is still his key attribute. And that was the difference on his 52-yard score to put the game away in the fourth quarter. On that play, he took a pitch, got great blocks, saw this gap and never looked back. He wasn't touched by a single New Orleans defender...

If I have a small fear in regard to Wilson, it's that he's an all-or-nothing back. Eight of his 13 runs were for four or fewer yards, with the other five runs giving him 93 of his 100 yards. But that's not a terrible problem to have, and it might get better with time anyway.

Too early to tell if he's consistent, but we definitely know he's explosive.


Impact on Special Teams

One of Wilson's three touchdowns came as a result of a 97-yard kick return, but he made a tremendous impact throughout the day in the return game.

In fact, he set a new team record for all-purpose yards with 327 against New Orleans. 

Even before Bradshaw suffered his latest injury, Wilson had set the tone for the Giants with a 58-yard return on the first play of the day. The middle return didn't look special from the outset, but at around the 20-yard line, Wilson exhibited a phenomenal burst to simply outrun three or four surrounding cover guys.

The same thing happened in the second quarter, with the Giants protecting only a four-point lead and looking to regain momentum. This time, he'd get a nice hole and then simply outrun the hell out of Elbert Mack (No. 44) to get all of those extra yards. 

It's a shame that neither of those plays led to points on the ensuing drives, but then he took things into his own hands on the other big return he had. The 97-yard score came right after a Manning pick-six in the first quarter, and it came as a result of poor coverage, good blocking and a hell of a lot of speed.

Bradshaw is undergoing a series of tests this week on his knee, so there's no telling what type of role he'll be able to play in Atlanta Sunday.

Wilson will have to be a factor for the Giants to win that game, and so long as he protects the ball and Manning when asked, he might have a chance to keep increasing his role. Perhaps so much so that, by the time we enter the offseason, Bradshaw will have become the backup.