It's not news to anyone that the Giants are having trouble running the ball so far this season. After two weeks of play New York has accumulated just 73 yards rushing. Sophomore halfback David Wilson has been ineffective and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride probably didn't think he'd be calling plays for Brandon Jacobs back when camp broke.
The good news for the Giants?
First, when quarterback Eli Manning isn't throwing the ball to the other team, he's been very good this season and already has 781 passing yards and five touchdowns. Second, Carolina's secondary is in just as bad shape as New York's offensive backfield. The Panthers lost safety Charles Godfrey for the season when he tore his Achilles tendon last week against Buffalo. Cornerback Josh Thomas is questionable for Sunday with a concussion.
In response, the Panthers could end up heavily relying on recent free agent pickup Drayton Florence and rookie safety Robert Lester. That sounds like something that Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride can exploit.
"They'll play a little bit more conservative and try to be a little safer in their approach rather than letting guys hanging them up one on one with receivers," said Gilbride when forecasting Carolina's defensive strategy for Week 3. "But I've certainly gone against guys that have taken the other approach. You really don't know."
"The other approach" refers to an aggressive blitzing strategy that would hope to get the ball out of Manning's hands and not give him enough time to pick apart the secondary. The drawback would be leaving some inexperienced players in one-on-one situations.
Either way, the state of Carolina's secondary is an advantage for New York. Gilbride might not even have to worry too much about the struggling running game if Manning can pick apart the Panthers through the air.
"The only thing I care about is: are we moving the ball?" said Gilbride on his offensive strategy. "If [Wilson is] running and making yardage, then he'll get it. If he's not, then somebody else will get a chance to carry it or we'll be throwing it."
If the Giants backs aren't effective, Gilbride isn't going to be shy about letting Manning take control.
"You've got to play the game as it comes, as it unfolds, and if you're not doing something very well, then you've got to try to take advantage of the thing that is a matchup maybe in your favor," said Gilbride."We're definitely going to make an effort to run. We're definitely going to do whatever we can to be as balanced as we can, but most importantly of all, we'll try to win the game."
For the Giants this season, winning the game might mean using the pass to set up the run instead of the other way around.