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Brandon Jacobs' Injury is Good for Giants

by Photo of Andrew Lontos

The Giants have been using multiple running backs, but one of them is far better than the others.

Brandon Jacobs' Injury is Good for Giants

In this article…

Despite a slew of injuries and a brutal home loss to Seattle, the Giants find themselves at 4-2 and atop the NFC East. In the early part of this up and down season, it's been New York's traditionally sound, tough running game that has been lacking. But, finally, that wasn't the case on Sunday. 

Via ESPN:

For a change, the New York Giants didn't have to rely solely on Eli Manning's arm. They are heading into the bye week with hope, now that they've found a running game.

Ahmad Bradshaw ran for season-high 104 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and Lawrence Tynes kicked a go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining to give the Giants a 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"This is a huge win for us," guard  David Diehl said. "Coming into this game, we had a lot of things on our minds, with No. 1 being getting the run game going. Ahmad had a huge game for us, over 100 yards, three touchdowns and he ran hard all game..."

Is it a coincidence that Big Blue's ground game excelled when Brandon Jacobs was out and Bradshaw got over 20 carries?

I think not.

Now, it's obviously not all Jacobs' fault that the running game wasn't performing. And Bradshaw is far from perfect; he struggled last game without Jacobs. The new faces and injuries to the offensive line are more important than the backs who line up behind them.

Just ask Derrick Ward.  

But Bradshaw is a better running back than Jacobs. It's not even close.

During the broadcast yesterday, Phil Simms actually said, "Brandon Jacobs hurt might even be a blessing".

Why? Because he knows how good Bradshaw is.

The benefit of Jacobs is his intimidating presence. He's supposed to use his size and toughness to wear out opponents and get those extra yards. He's not supposed to ever go down on first contact. You look at him and would think that he's a perfect goal line back, someone who can push the pile into pay-dirt. 

The problem is that Bradshaw does all these things better than Jacobs- plus more.

Besides at the goal line, where Jacobs has never been great despite being given the opportunity from Day 1, this was not always the case. He used to be the intimidating bull that defensive backs had nightmares about. His reputation is still based off this:

That was AWESOME, but it's time to move on. Jacobs doesn't make plays like this anymore.

Too often he's tripped up by a cornerback. He's not afraid of contact and will fall forward, but he doesn't keep his feet moving, break the tackle and move on to his next victim. At 6'4", Jacobs is too tall; he runs too high with the ball and doesn't have the balance to stay up. His size makes it difficult to fit through holes that Bradshaw maneuvers through with ease, which is why Bradshaw is actually the better goal line back. Since Jacobs doesn't effectively use his strength, he's borderline useless. Bradshaw not only surpasses him in that regard, he clearly has the better acceleration and agility. Jacobs doesn't hit the hole fast enough and his big runs come when the offensive line creates space big enough for a truck to fit through. In other words, he makes plays when any other running back in the NFL would have done the same. It makes sense then that he was far better when the Giants had the best offensive line in football a few years ago. Now that the line isn't creating as much space, he's struggling. Jacobs averaged just over five yards a carry in 2007 and 2008. In the last three years, he's been inconsistent. He failed to average four yards a carry in 2009, ballooned up to over five last year, and is now back down below four again this year.

Similar to Osi Umenyiora, Jacobs has a tendency to stir up trouble when there are better players at his position on the team. In fairness to Osi, he produces when he's on the field. You can't say the same about Jacobs.

When Bradshaw speaks out, just like on the field, the results are better.

I can't think of one facet of the game where Jacobs is better than Bradshaw. And we haven't even gotten into pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield, two aspects where Bradshaw also excels. Bradshaw may be too small to continue to get 26 carries a game, but he needs to get more work and D.J. Ware can spell Bradshaw when necessary for a much more salary cap friendly price.

 The Giants don't need to appease Jacobs' high maintenance behavior and underwhelming performance any longer.

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