Thursday, November 12, 2009

On Jacobs

We all know Brandon Jacobs, for the most part, hasn't looked much like the Brandon Jacobs we've come to expect over the past couple of years, even though his yardage figures suggest he's on his way to another 1,000-yard season.

The thing is, he hasn't had a 100-yard rushing effort over his last 16 games, going back to 2008. That's a whole football season if you're counting, and that is rather disturbing considering the Giants have gone 8-1 in his nine regular-season 100-yard games.

Now, I've long maintained on this blog that the amount of Jacobs' carries are as important as his yardage, simply because of the punishment he inflicts on a defense. His carries should be up around 20 to 25 carries, but he's only hit those numbers four times this year. It's curious, considering he can be such a force. But what's more curious is the coaching staff's explanation of why Jacobs' numbers are so low.

"Oh, I don’t know," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said to my question as to whether Jacobs is getting enough carries. "As I said to you early on when all of you were complaining that he was carrying it too much and not doing it well enough, that in the end of the season I thought the numbers would reflect a solid season for him. I think I still feel the same way. When it is all said and done it will all balance out.

"But they are trying to get --- Ahmad at the beginning of the year was our hot runner and doing a great job. And everybody wanted to get him more carries. And now everybody wants to get Brandon more."

And here's something really curious.

" You can’t do it all," Gilbride said. "So you try to split it up. And it is up to our running back coach, who does a great job. And Tom, again, sets the parameters that Gerald (Ingram) operates in. And you just hope that you have the right guy in at the right time."

That seems to have raised a lot of questions. I think Ingram has a lot of influence as to who gets in and when, but it's ultimately up to Gilbride and Tom Coughlin to make the final decision. By hoping that they have the right guy in at the right time, I'm thinking that that's part of Gilbride's guessing game.

At any rate, the whole issue revolves more around the desire to use Ahmad Bradshaw and now Danny Ware. They seem to be determined to get Ware involved more, which is fine. But it may be at the expense of Jacobs' carries.

"(Ware) has to be," Gilbride said. "He can be a guy that can give us some relief on first and second downs, certainly; but also, especially, on third down.

"He has to start to evolve into that player. So he has to prove that, first and foremost, you can do the protection sufficiently. That is what you are going to do more often on third down than anything else. And then I think you have a terrific runner and you have a guy you can throw the ball to out of the backfield, which would give us a dimension that we are looking forward to having. But he is still getting himself back into ‘in season’ form. And I think that he showed some things and some things we are still looking to knock some of the rust off."

Ingram was very interesting in explaining the difference between Jacobs last year and this year. And in Ingram's mind, that had a lot to do with Ware's absence. Without the shifty Ware, he said, Jacobs has had to alter his long-striding running style that allowed him to pick a hole and hit it without shifting gears. The tentativeness Jacobs showed early in the season was caused by that, Ingram said.

"Early in the year it hurt us a little bit to not have Danny Ware," Ingram said. "We had anticipations of Danny being that third down type of guy who could do those things that Derrick Ward did a year ago. But he got hurt early. So now you end up taking a step backwards.

"Now it ends up being a new guy in those kinds of capacities. Last year (Brandon) was the beast, going downhill doing the things that he does best. And that is what you expect him to do. He had to shift gears. I don’t see him other than when we are suiting certain things to him doing well, which is running down hill and attack people. When people are unblocked in front of him he runs them over."

Ingram followed with what I thought was a fascinating take on Jacobs' abilities.

"When you have a guy who is 6’4 going east and west and has to follow a pulling guard and those types of things, he is going to be right on top of him," Ingram said. "Whenever he has to slow down and then restart again, it’s not like a quick-stepper. A quick-stepper darts and has acceleration.

"Those long steppers, for years we used to play Eddie George, we used to say ‘How do you stop Eddie George?’ You make them restart. Because those long striders can’t restart. Those guys who were like that a little bit, Eric Dickerson, but he was a glider and then he could burst. What would you say about him now; you wouldn’t accept that for being patient?

"These long-strider type of guys, they are suited for one cut, downhill, hit and get it. If there are moving parts, then you have to accept that they have to be patient and when they do get going again it takes another. But when you have quicker, dartier guys the impression is, it looks quick, it looks fast. The only thing they do is bounce. They bounce all over the place until they find the next hole. Let a guy who is 6-4 try to bounce and go from one hole to the next hole, based off how the defense is trying to plug holes. The perception is going to look like a guy who is tippy toeing through the hole because he is still trying to find where the hole is. The darter who does it accelerates and gets to the third hole. Because he has shorter, quicker feet. He can shift gears and change directions. He can do all those things.

"Long striders, they can’t. If you make those guys restart, you have accomplished your game. Brandon is such an oddity at 6’4 , 265 pounds, if he ever gets eight yards past the line of scrimmage, who wants to really tackle him. Who? Those older 6-4 guys when they got in the open field, I don’t know if they were as fast as this guy. He has a lot of things and he is still growing and developing. He is best-suited to be going downhill and he loves doing those things."

All very interesting, but it still doesn't solve the mystery of why Jacobs doesn't get 20 carries per game regularly. I will maintain that the coaches are trying to keep him injury free for the end of the season, which effectively comes now. We'll see if they take the reins off him these last seven games, or at least in the final five when a playoff spot will either be won or lost.




  1. EP, I hope you are right, that they were saving him for the second half of the season. I want to see more of him between the tackles, not these stretch runs off tackle. Save those plays for Bradshaw and Ware. I know that they have to keep the defense honest by using the off-tackle plays with Jacobs, but that should only constitute 5% of his carries. The offense seems to have great weapons and I just hope the KG can get a little more creative with them. Different looks, sets, personel, etc. If he wants to use the shotgun, how about Jacobs AND Bradshaw in the backfield at the same time? Or Bradshaw AND Ware, that's a lot of speed back there. TC and KG should take the next 10 days, sit down, and really hash out a good game plan for the rest of the season.

    With regards to defense, Sheridan should be fined everytime Osi, Tuck, or Kiwi drops into coverage from the DE spot.

    Go Big Blue!

  2. I think it is quite clear that they are protecting him. Given the big new deal he got during the offseason and his reputation for getting injured, they are protecting their investment....stupidly in my opinion.

    You sign him to the big deal because he's part of our smashmouth foundation. Get him the carries, pound defenses into weakness (as you said) and play the game the way we are built to play it. He's only got, what, 2 TDs this year? Give him his 20+ carries per game and we win more often than we have been. if he gets injured, so what? I think Bradshaw, Ware and our apparently solid WR core can carry us for a few games without BJ.


  3. Oh and if I hear the commentators say "Jacobs...bounces to the outside" or "Bradshaw...up the gut for a 2 yard gain" ONE MORE FRIGGIN' TIME.....I'm gonna snap.

  4. I think we have too many coaches, with too many jobs.

    These guys now obviously can't see the wisdom of just letting Jacobs steamroll people. They have to use "rotations" and see what kind of striders they are.

    Somebody call Jim Brown.