Injuries slowing down Jacobs, Bradshaw and the Giants' running game
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 11/18/2011, 12:24 p.m.
For the Giants, who have endured a multitude of injuries, getting healthy, staying healthy and elevating their level of positive consistency are the most crucial factors to being a championship caliber team.
No doubt they have the pieces, swagger and experience to challenge any team in the NFL, including the 9-0 Green Bay Packers. The one glaring aspect of the Giants that has been unsatisfactory-and perhaps the key to any future success-is a viable ground attack.
Their two top running backs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, have been hampered by foot and knee injuries respectively, limiting the Giants' offensive game plans. The explosive Bradshaw, at 5-foot-10 and 214 pounds, is one of the most physical runners in football. Jacobs, at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, is still quick and powerful.
However, neither is close to being the game-changing rusher he was a year ago, when the pair combined for over 2,058 yards. Bradshaw tallied 1,235 of them and Jacobs averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
Bradshaw, the starter, missed his second straight game on Sunday in a 27-20 loss to the now 8-1 49ers in San Francisco. Jacobs only managed 55 yards on 18 carries. Overall, the Giants rank 29th out of 32 teams in rushing yardage and are averaging a miniscule 3.3 yards per attempt.
"We can't make excuses," Jacobs said nearly two weeks ago. "We can't use injuries as an excuse. No one wants to be injured, but that's a part of the game...Yeah, it's frustrating, but we know what we're still capable of doing."
The 6-3 Giants face the crumbling 3-6 Philadelphia Eagles at home this Sunday night before an arduous two-week stretch in which they will play the New Orleans Saints on the road and the Packers at MetLife Stadium, making the game against the Eagles a must-win. The Giants cannot risk going into New Orleans with the possibility of incurring a three-game losing streak.
As well as quarterback Eli Manning has performed this season, ending the argument as to whether he is an elite quarterback, football logic says the Giants will not beat the league's best teams with him carrying such a heavy burden. Some way, somehow, the running game has to start to emerge.