What Will Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson Giants Backfield Look Like in 2012?
The New York Giants proved yet again last year that you don't need a great running game to win championships. But that also doesn't mean the Giants are satisfied.
They learned in 2008 that it's unbelievably difficult to follow up a Super Bowl-winning season, and so they're clearly looking to improve on their weaknesses to gear up for their title defense.
Naturally, the small, speedy Virginia Tech product is the early favorite to become Ahmad Bradshaw's top complementary option in the Giants' backfield beginning Week 1. And while there's a lot of explosiveness there to be excited about, the Giants lose a lot of size. The difference between Jacobs and Wilson weight-wise is about a second-grader (depending on the state).
You can make the argument that the league's 32nd-ranked running game can't get any worse, but I'm not sure a Bradshaw-Wilson duo will have much more success than Bradshaw and Jacobs did. Plus, you knew what you were getting from Jacobs. So while Wilson has more upside and is a better athlete (and might cause less of a headache), the possibility exists that he'll become nothing more than a younger version of Bradshaw.
Considering Bradshaw's tendency to get hurt, that might not be such a bad thing. But if you don't think your No. 1 guy can be a workhorse, the logical strategy is usually to bring in a back that possesses a separate set of skills. Despite poor run-blocking from a lackluster offensive line, Jacobs was fairly efficient in short-yardage situations last year.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride suggested last week that Wilson might be better than you'd assume in short-yardage scenarios.
He looks for every yard, fights for every yard, breaks a lot of tackles. Probably breaks a little more tackles than you would think he'd be capable of just looking at him and then he combines that with phenomenal speed.
Now whether or not he can do that up at this next level remains to be seen but he looks—no question—looks like if there's a hole, he's going to get through it and he's going to give you a chance to make some big plays.
Still, he's not the battering ram Jacobs was. With Bradshaw and Wilson trying to pick up first downs in Jacobs' old spots—it's also possible the Giants believe D.J. Ware can be that guy, but if that were the case, they probably wouldn't have used a first-round pick on another running back—the line will have to improve dramatically in 2012.
Finally, it's possible the Giants are already losing faith in the 26-year-old Bradshaw less than a year after signing him to a four-year contract extension. Adding Wilson gives them a similar player with more upside as insurance.
Who knows. Maybe having a younger clone in town will light a fire under a quality player who hasn't been himself since a 1,200-yard 2010 campaign.
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