Two years ago, the New York Giants dubbed their running backs tandem of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber "Thunder and Lightning," and the future looked bright for a backfield combination that gained nearly 1,800 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.
Those numbers are considerably lower these days. Barber and Dayne are currently at 589 yards, a combined 3.6 yards-per-carry rushing average.
This is not Giants football. Twenty-seventh in the league in rushing?
"Obviously, we are not scoring as many points as we need to," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "We are well aware of it and we are trying to take steps to correct it."
Therein lies the issue for whatever playoff hopes the Giants have this season. Their defense is ranked sixth overall in the league, but the offense is lagging behind at 17th overall, and that doesn't include Collins' eight interceptions or the Giants' minus-five in turnover differential.
As has been the case so often for the defensive-minded Giants, a stodgy offense is holding the team back. The Jaguars will get a first-hand look at the situation this Sunday night in Giants Stadium, where the two 3-4 teams will collide in an ESPN event.
"We can't get uptight about it. We can't worry about it. We can't let it paralyze us, and I don't think it will. I think we've got the right attitude. I think we are practicing well. It will come, hopefully, sooner rather than later," Collins added.
The Giants have had to battle through key injuries but those injuries have been on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Keith Hamilton was lost for the season with an Achilles tear and star defensive end Michael Strahan missed action due to back spasms.
At midseason, the Giants need to make a move forward if they are to be a playoff contender, and this is traditionally the time of year the Giants make that move.
"If we want to have a good season, it can't be win one, lose one, win one," coach Jim Fassel said. "Every team that goes far hits a stride and they put three, four, five wins together.
"I don't want to see a bunch of guys walking around feeling sorry for themselves. I want to see some guys with some fight in them. And I believe we will," Fassel added.
Having identified the offense as his team's problem, Fassel began tinkering with the playbook a couple of weeks ago. "We need to streamline some things," he said.
"I am going to slim down some things to what we do well. Let's do what we do well and you come and stop us; a bit of an arrogance about us. We are going to run the football; we are going to throw the football. If you run the ball, from a physical toughness standpoint, you control the game and you throw the ball for points," Fassel added.
That has always been the Giants' mantra: You throw to score; you run to win. Those who know the Giants' history know any surge in the second half of the season will have to begin with the running game.
The Meadowlands' winds will soon blow cold. That's when the Giants begin to run the ball and they'll probably have a healthy dose of run-the-ball built into their game plan for the Jaguars, who have one of the league's worst stop-the-run defenses.
"I don't care how many yards you throw for, I don't care what your total offense is at the end of the game. How many points did you put on the board? How many times did we turn the thing over? That's the key," Fassel said.
"The teams with the winning records; there will be a couple of them that will fall apart. There will be a couple of teams with losing records that will step up. Some of us in the middle of the pack … have to step up if we want to finish in the final group of teams with good records," he added.
As the season turns into November, there's no doubting the time is now to make a move.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.