Saturday, January 8, 2011

Year in Review: Running Backs

This position is one of the toughest to grade. Usually you look at yards, yards per carry and touchdowns and you have a good idea of how a running back or a set of backs did over the course of a season. For Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, it was not that simple. Unfortunately, there were other factors that have to be looked at to determine their performance as a whole.

First, let's look at the Giants featured back, Ahmad Bradshaw. This would be his first season as being the go-to guy. Not a bad debut as the starter running for 1,235 yards, which is good enough for 9th in the NFL and ran for 8 touchdowns. Usually that's a great year, especially since the yards are the 7th highest in franchise history, but the fact that Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the toughest runners, pound-for-pound in the NFL really hurt him. He just doesn't go down, and unfortunately, that leads to a large amount of fumbles, 7 of them to be exact. What hurts more about the fumbles is that 3 of them came when the Giants were in the red zone, and one of them came at their own 25 yard line giving their opponent (The Eagles to be exact) a very short field.

Unlike Bradshaw, it's very difficult to hide Brandon Jacobs when he comes onto the field, with all 6'4" and 264 pounds of him. Don't let that size fool you, he's a very skilled runner. After trying to be too fancy in 2009, averaging 3.7 yards a carry for only 835 yards on 224 touches, he went back to basics and exploded as the change-of-pace running back in 2010. Sometimes, it seems like he can just fall and he'll get 4 yards, which is why he should focus on going up and down the field, instead of side-stepping. Jacobs averaged 5.7 yards per rush on his way to 823 yards on just 147 carries with this philosophy. He also scored 9 touchdowns to go along with his impressive running. However, he did fumble the ball twice. That might not seem like a high total, but considering he only carried the ball 147 times, it's a big number.

So combined, the two-headed monster of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs carried the ball 423 times for 2058 yards, which is 4.9 yards per carry, while scoring 17 touchdowns. This would easily be good enough for a grade of an A, but the turnovers really hurt them this season. I'm not laying all the blame on the running backs, but they really need to cut those turnovers in half at the very least for 2011.

Grade: C-

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