Saw a post over at Big Blue View that got my dander up as they say — and wanted to offer an opinion. Not that I’m known for doing such things of course…. but I digress.
In the wake of last season’s bitter running game void that began with the departure of the 2008 super-group “Earth Wind and Fire” and ended with the demise of Brandon Jacobs’ Juggernaut persona – a few details have emerged that potentially shed light on what the Giants may have in store for their RB core 2010.
1) Jacobs’ Knee Injury: Just one day after 2009 seasons end, did we really need the press conference that delivered that jolting news? ALL SEASON we figured as much. The only thing we weren’t sure about is WHEN it happened — it just so happened to be in the first damn game of the season. Lesson learned, according to Brandon Jacobs. Instead of trying to play through 16 weeks injured, rather than taking the coach’s advice and taking 4-6 weeks off early on and getting the necessary procedure done — all the while being accused of tip-toeing up to the line and missing a 1,000 yard season and 4 ypc as predicted by the man himself. Lesson learned indeed.
We’ll see what happens in game one of 2010, and whether or not Jacobs will get the bulk of the carries as the feature back for the majority of the game. OR … will the Giants adopt a more dynamic strategy like they did toward the end of the season with relying on their #2 and 3 backs throughout the game instead of lengthy assignments across big chunks of game time.
I would argue that the more Jacobs plays in status quo downs — between the 30’s– the less damage he’s going to do in the red zone when they get there. While Jacobs’ damaging running style in years past had weakened up defenses’ underbellies — going forward I think it only serves to weaken Jacobs’ under carriage. Since 2008 when Jacobs proved he and the Giants running game was for real, teams have adapted. And one of the things they continue to do is lunge at Jacob’s knees — and they are not going to stop doing that because he had an off year last year (due to an injury of the same nature). It’s clear what has to be done now — treat Jacobs more like a 2006 era battering ram, and less like an all-in-one featured back for the bulk of the game. Particularly when there are other players on the team that are arguably more elusive, and equally as effective. This brings me to my next point and where Big Blue View fits in……
2) More touches for Ahmad Bradshaw: Via Ed Valentine — one of our favorite stat sites Pro Football Focus has recently posted an article about rating the NFL’s running backs on “elusiveness” and coined it their “Elusive Rating“.
Cut to the chase — Ahmad Bradshaw is a top 10 back in terms of individual elusiveness and production.
Bradshaw is certainly in good company there…. and what’s great about the ranking is it attempts to get rid of the offensive line effect – wherein the strength of the runner is tied to the strength of the guys blocking for them. See?
The goal of this stat is to filter out the performance of back’s blockers and solely focus on a runner’s contribution.
Bradshaw is also in the top 10 most elusive after the CATCH
This is not to say I told you so — although admittedly it is always nice to have numbers to support what you’ve been saying for quite some time — but what this means for the Giants is that in Ahmad Bradshaw they have a very capable, dangerous, determined, and versatile young player that COULD be the feature back if they decided to give him that role. And the numbers show that in a limited role with fighting injuries — he was still an elite back in terms of production.
Meanwhile — Derrick Ward fell off, big time. Not that I wish Ward ill will or anything – I’ve just always preferred to see Bradshaw step out of the shadow cast by Ward and Jacobs. And while Jacobs is going to continue to “get his money” as the #1 RB for the Giants, I would in my heart like to see Bradshaw escalate to a larger role with more responsibility. I think he’s earned it.
To those who will qualify this study with a more negative outlook on Bradshaw’s numbers likely dropping with more involvement in the offense, more carries for a loss, more receptions broken up — fair enough. But I still challenge you to think optimistically about Bradshaw’s potential as a future all-in-one featured back for the Giants, and Jacobs being more of a compliment as the years go on.