- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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A weekly look at a player whose performance must improve in 2010.
When the Giants won the Super Bowl, they had a very good defense and several other prominent assets in their favor, but their power running game was what they hung their hats on. Behind a great offensive line, Brandon Jacobs punished New York's opponents repeatedly in route to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Times have changed.
Jacobs wasn't himself last season. In fact, I am not sure if we will ever see the Jacobs from the aforementioned Super Bowl season. He isn't built for the long haul. Jacobs' greatest asset is his power, which he generates from his tremendous size for the position and his head-to-toe strength. He also used to accelerate very well for such a huge back, and as physics has taught us, force equals mass times acceleration.
The mass and the strength will always be there, but the acceleration has me worried. Even on his healthiest days, Jacobs needs a few steps in the backfield to really get up to speed. With a lack of elusiveness, he is too easy to corral and get to the ground if he doesn't have a head of steam.
Jacobs played with injuries last season, but I contend that he will always have a difficult time staying healthy and maximizing his ability to accelerate and have any bit of elusiveness. He runs very high, has a high center of gravity and is a massive target for his opponent to smack. Of course he initiates an awful lot of contact and never was the most agile of runners. Even for the majority of his college career at Auburn, Jacobs didn't carry the load. I am not so sure that he is equipped to be a 20-plus carries per game running back over the course of a grueling season. I fear we are witnessing the beginning of the end of his career. Backs like him just don't last. Considering their defensive needs, the Giants cannot afford that to be the case, although it would not surprise me if a lesser-known back presently on their roster stepped up in 2010. Danny Ware, Andre Brown and Gartrell Johnson all have shown glimpses of promise and could conceivably take over a much larger role if Jacobs continues to falter.
The Giants have moved to more of a passing team, and their line isn't quite what it once was. The strengths of this offense are now Eli Manning and his young, talented stable of wide receivers. But more is needed from Jacobs. He has to be the closer. He has to be the one who establishes a very physical nature, specifically in this division. I have my doubts.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
The New York Giants need Brandon Jacobs to once again be the powerful back who led them to the Super Bowl, writes Matt Williamson.