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The NFL running back conundrum


The shelves in Brian Daboll’s home office are stocked with old playbooks symbolizing years of labor, dusty clutter the Giants coach says his wife, Beth, would just as soon see within the trash.

“I’ve still got stuff from since I began in 1997,” Daboll said.

Possibly he should keep that stuff, because despite Monday’s loss to the Cowboys, Daboll’s Recent York Giants offense is cooking with throwback seasoning: Give the ball to a lead running back and let him work.

Saquon Barkley logged 53 carries and 66 touches over the primary three weeks. Not only did Barkley reward that faith with 408 total yards, but he provided a signature moment that felt like something out of an NFL Movies montage: crossing over two Tennessee Titans defenders for a 2-point conversion in the ultimate minutes of Week 1, prompting bro-hugs between head coach and hero running back on the sideline and awkward middle-aged dancing within the locker room.

This can be a departure for Daboll, whose tailbacks during his four-year tenure as Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator never produced greater than 190 carries in a season.

“A man like Saquon, you do not need to take him off the sector an excessive amount of, along with his skill set,” Daboll said of the NFL’s second-leading 2022 rusher.

As the trendy NFL leans heavily on passing, top rushers try to preserve the feature back while accepting modern realities about usage and production. They cite Adrian Peterson and Derrick Henry and all of the post-2000 backs who live in NFL folklore for his or her durability and deft open-field cuts — even when many front offices have moved off that model.

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