Way back in May when I attended Giants OTAs, Eli Manning talked about David Wilson, and the challenges he faced to simply get on the field in his rookie season:
“You see talent and you see speed, and quickness, so those are obviously important things. But for a running back it’s learning technique, footwork. Protections are going to be a big deal, knowing what to do. If I’m changing protections and changing plays, is he going to be ready for that? And also routes. Routes versus every concept, knowing where to be and all those things. Those things are what usually take the longest and sometimes holds up a running back from getting on the field.”
On the very first pass play of the day, Wilson showed his deficiencies in pass protection. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will be coming on a blitz:
Wilson reads it correctly, and gets into a good position to make a block:
However, his technique is awful, as he appears to try to “catch” Weatherspoon, rather than delivering a blow of his own, and Weatherspoon simply trucks him:
Apologies for the blur, but Weatherspoon is able to get a hit on Eli, who is not able to fully follow through on his throw:
It is intercepted by Asante Samuel, although I’m not sure it wouldn’t have been intercepted anyway, even if Wilson had served as something more than a speed bump:
The Falcons would score a few plays later.
Ahmad Bradshaw is excellent at all the “little things.” Pro Football Focus has Bradshaw rated as the best blocking back in the league this season. In watching him on tape, I would agree that his pass protection stands out. When the Giants got into obvious passing situations yesterday, they brought in recently signed Kregg Lumpkin. Wilson has more talent in his pinky fingernail than Kregg Lumpkin, and yet, despite trailing by a large deficit (a time when you need all the playmakers you can get), Lumpkin got significant playing time. I just can’t blame Coughlin/Gilbride for that approach.
There was another play in the first half where Wilson showed his lack of experience. He was leaking into the flat on a pass play, and when Eli Manning got some quick pressure, he looked to dump it down to Wilson as a safety valve. The closest player to Wilson was almost 10 yards away. When Wilson sees that he has to know that there’s a good chance the ball could be coming his way. There was a play to be made here, however, Wilson is far too late to get his head around and look for the football:
Those are only two plays, and while it might seem nitpicky, those are the kinds of plays that are keeping Wilson off the field, despite the electric runs. My perception is that Ahmad Bradshaw’s absence from this game was met almost with open arms by some fans, because they were excited to see Wilson get his first start. While I think Wilson’s future is bright and his ceiling unlimited, the Giants can’t get Bradshaw back soon enough.