This offseason the Giants signed receiving-running back Shane Vereen away from the New England Patriots hoping to bolster their running back production, which was among the lowest in the NFL a season ago. A majority of Vereen’s career touches have come on quick designed swing passes out the backfield or on misleading draw plays where the defense is baited into defending the pass. Vereen will allow the Giants to be able to neutralize an opponent’s pass rush with quick passes, as well as disguising rush plays by running the ball out of typical passing formations.
With the crowded backfield that the Giants currently employ (Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams), there is speculation surrounding the allocation of each RB’s touches. Vereen adds versatility to the backfield, as he is a proven pass protector with wide receiver catching ability. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was asked what role he thought Vereen would hold in their offense.
"I see him in that regard as a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, a pass protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three-wide offense in the run game, if you will, which is very prevalent today in our sport," Coughlin said during the NFL Annual Meeting, per Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. "So I see him in that regard."
Coughlin hints that Vereen’s role may be more prevalent in their offensive scheme this year; with the wide receiver trio of Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Odell Beckham Jr., it is likely that the Giants will a run a lot of snaps in three wide receiver sets. Vereen should usurp touches from his fellow position-mates in these formations as well as in the two minute drill, where his pass catching ability is invaluable from a running back standpoint.
The Giants’ role of a receiving running back has been vacant for multiple seasons now, as Ahmad Bradshaw was the last Giants’ running back with credible hands. Vereen boasts more receiving talent than the Giants have ever had at the position.
"You know what (Vereen) can do,” admitted Coughlin. “Quite frankly, it's something from an attack standpoint we've had some success with, but not to the extent that he has. "When you look at Vereen, a lot of the (Tom) Brady hookup with Vereen was when the ball was almost automatically going to him."
This was exemplified in the Patriots Super Bowl win against the Seahawks, where Vereen caught 11 balls for 64 yards, deflating the Seattle pass rush and exploiting holes in their coverage.
Vereen also made comments regarding his new role for the Giants, calling the free agency signing, “A step up” from his role in New England. This statement wasn’t made to slander the Patriots, rather to project his excitement for an enhanced role that will hopefully feature more rushing attempts.
Vereen’s versatility meshed with the Giants offensive scheme will allow him to get a notable amount of playing time. Rashad Jennings will still receive a majority of the totes, as he is the best between the tackle rusher the Giants feature. Vereen will share about the same portion of snaps as Jennings, servicing a receiving role with occasional shotgun runs sprinkled in. Andre Williams will see his touches drop, but similarly to last season he will have opportunities arise as potential injuries amass. The addition of Shane Vereen brings depth to a running back unit that struggled last season, and the Giants are sure to benefit in production by adding the versatile Vereen.