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Giants’ new running back committee fails first test

Jason Garrett had nine months to plan, to imagine, to enjoy all of the possibilities afforded to him as Saquon Barkley’s new offensive coordinator.

But after Barkley suffered a season-ending torn ACL in last week’s loss in Chicago, Garrett insisted the Giants’ running game could still thrive.

“We have a lot of confidence in the backs that we have here … and those guys will certainly get opportunities,” Garrett said this past week. “I just think the biggest thing you try to focus on as a coach is who do we have and how do we best utilize these guys individually to take advantage of their talents.

“If you have a guy like Saquon Barkley, a lot of the offense is going to go through him. … When I was in Dallas, we had to defend him a lot. The focal point of our defense was number 26. When you have different guys in the roles, maybe the focal point is not quite as narrow on that particular player. Maybe that works to your advantage a little bit.”

Maybe not.

Using a committee consisting of newly signed Devonta Freeman, Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis, the Giants’ backfield was invisible in Sunday’s 36-9 loss to the 49ers at MetLife Stadium.

Freeman — who was signed by the Giants on Wednesday — rushed for 10 yards on five carries. Gallman had 7 yards on four carries, with two catches for 7 yards. Lewis had zero yards on one carry, with one catch for 10 yards.

Devonta Freeman
Devonta FreemanCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Quarterback Daniel Jones was the team’s leading rusher, amassing 49 yards on five carries.

Despite the score being tied until the 49ers scored 10 points in the last 1:07 before halftime, Garrett never attempted to establish the run game. The 49ers dominated time of possession and wore down the Giants’ defense. In the first half, the Giants never called consecutive run plays.

Abysmal run-blocking was likely as responsible for the decision as the drop in talent in the backfield.

The offensive line had struggled opening holes in parts of two games with Barkley, who averaged 1.8 yards on 19 carries. Now, the struggling ground game has no star.

“Obviously we don’t want any of our players injured, but we have players in a position right now on our team that were on that field today that can help us win games,” head coach Joe Judge said. “So we gotta make sure that everyone coaches better, we have to raise our level of play and we gotta take advantage of opportunities and not make mistakes that put us behind.”

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