2009 Giants Running Backs Preview
Earth and Fire Looking For A Mighty Wind
Running Backs Coach: Jerald Ingram
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride
Running Backs: Brandon Jacobs (Starter), Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware, Andre Brown, Dwayne Wright
Fullback: Madison Hedgecock
The Giants are one of two teams that have had a 1,000-yard rusher each of the past two seasons (San Diego is the other). Ingram has been handling the backs since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004 and previously worked under Coughlin in both Jacksonville and at Boston College.
He can be credited with turning Tiki Barber into a superstar, correcting his style to reduce turnovers, and transforming the Giants' running game into the game's best.
Last season, the combination of Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Bradshaw (known as "Earth, Wind and Fire") generated almost 3000 yards from scrimmage. Ward left via free agency to Tampa Bay in March.
Brandon Jacobs ("Earth"): From the day he was drafted in 2005 to this very day, no one knows what will happen when Jacobs touches the ball. They only know they don't want to be in his way when it happens. The 6'4", 260 lb Jacobs is a punishing, vibrant force that wears down defenses.
If he gets past the line of scrimmage, he immediately becomes the biggest player on the field and there is little defenses can do except batten down the hatches. He has been the anchor of the Giants' backfield since Barber's departure in 2006 and has racked 2518 total yards and 21 TDs in his first two seasons as the featured back.
Jacobs came into the league a bit raw and is only now beginning to fine tune his skills and realize his potential. Teams that play the Giants must prepare for a physical battle first and foremost because of his presence, which sets the table for the slew of fleet backs that follow.
Ahmad Bradshaw ("Fire"): With his legal troubles hopefully behind him, Bradshaw can concentrate on becoming more of a presence in the Giants' running game. He is 'change-up' back, meaning his style is vastly different to that of Jacobs. Bradshaw usually catches defense flatfooted when he enters the game.
A multi-talented player, "Fire" has the ability to run effectively both inside and out as well as receive out of the backfield. He has a knack for making the first defensive responders miss, which has resulted in several big plays for the Giants. The key is to see how Bradshaw responds to the expanded role he will be given this season.
Danny Ware: Ware is a potential "Wind " candidate who comes highly touted by the coaches and GM Jerry Reese. The 6'1", 220 lb Ware is a product of the University of Georgia (Herschel Walker, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis, Knowshon Moreno) and could fit nicely into the role played by Derrick Ward the past few seasons.
Andre Brown: Brown was taken in the fourth round this April and according to draftniks his talents are very similar to that of Ward's. He is proficient at catching the ball out of the backfield and is extremely versatile.
He will be in a battle with the others to see playing time, so it is important for him to get off to a good start in training camp and possibly become the 'wind'.
Madison Hedgecock: The big fullback from North Carolina has proved to be an invaluable asset to the Blue. At 6'3", 266lbs, having Hedgecock in the backfield is like having another guard in the lineup.
He rarely touches the ball, but he has made the Giants' running and passing game more effective. He slams into the line on running plays and watches Eli Manning's back on most pass plays. As Jerry Reese likes to say, "We're a power rushing team," and Hedgecock is at the forefront of that group.
EWF is out to prove they can succeed without Ward. The expanded role of Bradshaw and the addition of Ware and Brown could make the Giants' running game deeper than before by providing more options. In a season where the passing game is going through a transition, this group will undoubtedly take some pressure of that unit.