Coach Tom Coughlin has repeatedly been asked about the performance of Brandon Jacobs this year. Each time, the coach has supported his big back, saying that he's "running the same" as he did last year and his performance is solid.
While the numbers don't reflect it—he's down this year to 3.6 yards a carry from his career average of 5.0—Jacobs should be ready to put the hard hat on and perform up to his standards this week on the road. Here's why.
1. The Giants Offensive Linemen want to dominate the Saints' strong D-line.
In a published report last week, the Giants offensive line said they wanted to do a better job blocking for Jacobs. During the first five games, I've noticed that Jacobs has been running a lot of sweeps instead of the quick hits off tackle that get him to the second level where he punishes linebackers and safety's.
The Saints have three strong defensive ends, Charles Grant, Will Smith, and Sedric Ellis, that rush well. With Manning injured, they will attempt to test his heel to see if he can move around to avoid pressure. To cancel all that heat and the potent Saints' offense, the Giants have to be planning alot of smash mouth and ball control on the ground to keep Drew "Fastbreak" Brees on the bench.
2. Brandon's pride is hurt.
Jacobs has been called out by the media relentlessly on his so-called "soft" play. Fox analyst Tony Siragusa said he was "tip-toeing" through the line a few weeks ago. At 265 pounds, that's an insult. But to his defense, most of those runs have come on sweeps instead of the off-tackle action he is known for.
In the New York Post today he made a comment about how fans just want to see him "run over people." For all his power, people forget he has 4.5 speed and can make moves. Brandon needs to get back to that and understand what makes him special—his ability to hit holes assertively, make moves quickly, and then powerfully punish second-level defenders with his strength.
No one wants to deal with that package at the end of the game.
3. The Giants Wide Receivers are now threats that have to be dealt with.
Steve Smith is having a Pro-Bowl year and Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks are tremendous in one-on-one situations. Teams now have to account for them as home run threats every time they touch the ball. This emphasis on the passing game should give Jacobs a chance to see less players in the box.
Prediction : Jacobs turns it up in the fourth quarter and controls the clock, redeeming himself and going over the 100-yard mark for the first time this year. Giants win 17-14.