The best healthy and available running back on the current New York Giants roster is Brandon Jacobs. That wouldn't be a problem if the year wasn't 2013. 2013 it is, however, and thus New York desperately needs help at the position.
I am not convinced that the team has found the answer in its latest acquisition.
The winless Giants announced on Wednesday that they had signed running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis, deemed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (also winless) to be not good enough to play on Sundays last month, appeared in 13 regular season games while with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and he finished with 309 total rushing yards.
Hillis has not had a memorable season since 2010, when he came out of nowhere to rush for 1,177 yards as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Since that time, his yards per carry average has dropped by 0.8, and he has only found the end zone on three occasions. Hillis has also been good for roughly two catches per game over the past couple of seasons.
New York cannot keep running backs healthy and able to play at the moment. David Wilson is sidelined with a neck injury, one that could ultimately lead to the Giants shutting the starter down for the remainder of what is already a lost campaign. Andre Brown cannot return from a broken leg until at least Week 10. The previously mentioned Jacobs is nursing a hamstring problem. Da'Rel Scott has been cut by the team for the second time this fall.
Just as frustrating has been the fact that none of those guys have made much of a positive impact in contests. Jacobs did rush for over 100 yards against a Chicago Bears side that is weak up front, but he has otherwise done little. Wilson got himself benched due to his not being able to hold onto the football. The franchise gave up on Scott and then only re-signed him because there wasn't any better option available.
The early belief is that Hillis will sit beneath Jacobs and rookie Michael Cox in the New York depth chart. Something would have to happen to both of those RBs for Hillis to see a significant amount of carries. Considering the lack of luck the Giants have enjoyed over the past two months, Hillis may be the team's starting running back by Halloween.
More realistic is that Hillis will be utilized, if at all, as a blocker for quarterback Eli Manning. Manning is having the worst season of his professional career, although more than a little blame for that has to go to an offensive line that has betrayed its quarterback far too often. Manning has been sacked 16 times, and he has already thrown 15 interceptions.
It isn't an accident or a lucky coincidence when a player isn't even signed as a potential backup in Week 7 of any season. That the Buccaneers decided to cut ties with Hillis is also telling. Crazier things have happened, sure, but odds are that Hillis isn't turning into the Comeback Player of the Year overnight. Don't at all be shocked if he isn't with the team once Brown is able to go.