Are the New York Giants Really Having an Open Running-Back Competition?

gregory caldarellaAnalyst IAugust 8, 2008

Brandon Jacobs had the starting running-back job on lock down last season. He was only able to stay healthy for the first half of the first game of the season against the Dallas Cowboys.

His inability to stay healthy last year lead to the Giants' uncovering some hidden gems within their running-back unit. After Jacobs went down in Dallas, backup Derrick Ward entered the game. Ward would prove to be an above-average fill-in and played very well in Jacob's absence.

He played so well that many figured a time-share could come to fruition once Jacobs returned. That did indeed happen, for a couple of weeks, and they formed a nice backfield tandem at the time. They looked like a nice two-headed monster going forward, until Jacobs hurt his hamstring against the Lions.

Ward took over as the starter again, and he had his best game of the year in Chicago, until he suffered a broken leg late in that game. Reuben Droughns assumed the starting job; he was brought in as a veteran backup prior to the season. He merely kept the spot warm for Jacobs until he returned yet again.

Jacobs was having one of his best outings in Buffalo, when he sat out the final quarter on that game after sustaining a minor injury. That injury opened the gates for rookie Ahmad Bradshaw, who burst onto the scene, as he showed big-play potential.

Bradshaw's talents were immediately implemented into the game for the remainder of the year.

Bradshaw and Jacobs came together in the playoffs as a nice combo of power and speed. Bradshaw proved to be the change-of-pace back the Giants were lacking. Ward was a pleasant surprise, but he was not as much a change of pace in relation to Jacob's style of running. Bradshaw had some flair to him, as he would bounce off tackles and make quick jukes.

The playoffs saw more of an even distribution of carries between the two running backs and that lead to the speculation that it would be a time-share for this coming season, but I see otherwise.

Jacobs is the unquestioned starter in my book and for good reason. He has really done nothing to lose his starter's share of the carries. He missed six games, and yet he still finished with over 1,000 yards on the ground. He proved to be very effective when he was constantly fed the rock. The more rushes he had, the more he would wear down a defense.

Jacobs is most effective when he racks up the carries in a game. The defense does not want to be tackling (or be tackled by) a 265-pound quick linebacker all game. As long as Jacobs stays on the field, health-wise, then I feel like he will still get approximately 60-75 percent of the workload.

The Giants might install the dreaded running-back-by-committee idea, but I hope they don't. It is nice to rotate your players and keep them fresh, but it is also nice to have your runner get into a groove rather than not knowing if he will be on the field for a given drive.

Bradshaw and Ward are very nice complements, but I think that's all they should be at this point. Bradshaw showed that he should be considered the third-down back and Ward can give a breather to either player throughout the game.

Jacobs had the best day of all the runners in the first preseason game. He juked CB Brian Kelly to the floor as he ripped off a 20-yard gain on his first carry. Jacobs is still light on his feet, and when he was tackled on the play, he lowered his shoulder to bring the pain.

He was also lifted after the first quarter, and that equates to starter status. Ward and Bradshaw struggled in the game, but I'm not worried about them. All I know is that people shouldn't get carried away with the Bradshaw craze in New York, but should remember that Jacobs is still the man for Big Blue...a rather large man for that matter.