Tag Archives: Ahmad Bradshaw

The Giants Running Game

A question I’ve heard a lot from non-Giants fans this week is whether the running game can see similar production for the remainder of the season.

To be honest I barely gave the running game a second thought, even though Ahmad Bradshaw just ran for a career-high 200 yards against the Browns this week.

The running game has been SO bad the past season and a half, that one game isn’t going to do it for me, especially when it came against the Browns. Next week the Giants are going to have no running room against the 49ers, and people are going to stop caring about the running attack of Big Blue.

That would be silly as well. There are some reasons to believe that the Giants running game can at least be a formidable attack from this point further.

For starters, Will Beatty has looked outstanding ever since being reinserted into the lineup this season. I have no idea what happened, but he looks like the left tackle we were expecting to get when the Giants took him in the second round a couple seasons ago.

His emergence helps solidify the left side of the line with Kevin Boothe, a player that is a little underrated in my opinion.

Another change is the plan of attack for the running backs. Andre Brown was able to have success when he got carries by following his blocks and running where the play was designed to. The same cannot be said for Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs last year.

This was probably due to the poor blocking they had in front of them, but both would dance around, or be quick to bounce the play outside in a desperate attempt to find running room. This caused confusion amongst the lineman, and they had trouble knowing where to block, which made it harder for them to hold the blocks.

Perhaps Beatty has helped solidify the line. The new running style has made it easier for the lineman to know their assignments, and that will allow Bradshaw, Brown, or whoever else is running to have confidence there will be a hole if they follow the play. That would be awesome.

Unfortunately I haven’t bought in yet. Even worse, we probably won’t know anything new based on this weekend. Still, it is worth keeping an eye on moving forward. If the running game really has emerged this offense could be a top 3 unit in the league.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

It would be easy to jump on the Giants for failing to make a splashy move while their close rivals scoop up every free agent on the market, but it wouldn’t be smart.

First off, it is very rare that a team goes on this kind of offseason splurge and wins a championship. The only times I can remember a team bringing in this many big names in one offseason, and it working out well, were the 2004 Eagles and the 2007 Patriots. Both teams did very well, but failed to win the SuperBowl that year, or any year after it for that matter. Most teams, however,  end up the way the Redskin, Cowboys and Raiders have with these attempts. (perhaps another indication of a supposed sports god?) Usually there is a combination of overconfidence, poor chemistry on the field, and sometimes a divided locker room. This season, those issues seem to be exacerbated with such little time to prepare before the start of the season. Think back to all the interviews during the lockout. All players, coaches, and people in the media kept saying, is the teams with the least amount of changes are set up the best to do well this season.

On the other hand the Giants have tried their best to re-sign their own players, and make a few small depth moves in the process. While none of these moves can be considered “splashy,” they each helped the Giants inch closer to their goal of a SuperBowl title.

Releasing Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, and Shawn Andrews was a tough blow for the veterans on the team. O’Hara and Seubert have long been stalwarts on the offensive line and in the locker room. Their injuries and age, however, made it impossible for the Giants to keep them. In comes David Baas and Stacy Andrews. Neither one of those players have made a Pro Bowl yet, but both are more than adequate to fill their designated roles. Baas instantly upgrades the offensive line, as O’Hara, Seubert and Adam Koets (the three players who took snaps at center last season) all were coming into training camp with lingering injury problems. Baas will not only be a healthy option for the Giants, but he is coming off a pretty successful season for the 49ers. In his first season at center Baas had some growing pains, but ultimately was viewed as one of the top 10 players at his position. He was a player the 49ers were hoping to get back, and a player that will hopefully improve and play well for the Giants. Stacy Andrews has not had as big of an impact with his former teams, but is still a reliable offensive tackle in this league, and offers a nice security blanket for a team going into the season with an unproven starter (Will Beatty) and an aging veteran (Kareem McKenzie).

Other notable transactions include the signings of tight end Ben Patrick, defensive tackle Gabe Watson, quarterback David Carr, punter Steve Weatherford, and running back Andre Brown.

In my opinion, Patrick could be one of the more underrated signings of the offseason. I have been high on this guy for a while now, as I hoped the Giant would draft him when he originally entered the league. He has been used mostly as a blocker for Arizona, but Coughlin raved about his hands in his workout. He has a big body and has proven he can block in this league, something no Giants starter outside (including?) Boss has proven, and he is a better receiver than most realize. With the loss of Boss to the Raiders, it seems the Giants are going to have to rely on him as their primary tight end, unless Beckum shows he can handle the role in camp.

Watson is another “high reward” type player. While I’m not as high on him as I am Patrick, I was also in favor of drafting him when he came out. The guy was a great college player with a quick burst, and strong body. Problem is he hasn’t really shown it in his limited action in the NFL. The big concern about him coming out of college was his work ethic. It was enough of a concern that he fell to the fourth round despite having first round talent. There are a few reasons why this signing could work out for the Giants. First off, he played the nose tackle position for the Cardinals in their 3-4 set. As Warren Sapp can attest to, this is not a fun position for penetrating tackles. Perhaps a return to a 4-3 defense can help him find his footing again. Secondly, this guy is on a one year minimum salary deal. Money has a funny way of motivating people and if Watson ever wants to see a big payday he better start playing well. (admittedly he should have realized this when he dropped to the fourth round. Second times the charm?)

Carr does not have high upside, but he played very nicely as the Giants back-up. Nicely enough that the 49ers thought he might have the potential to be a starting quarterback again. (that was until he actually showed up in camp) With Sage Rosenfels and Carr on the roster heading into training camp, you can rest assured that the Giants will have at least a serviceable back-up if anything were to happen to Manning. (KNOCK ON WOOD!)

Last season the Giants’ two biggest concerns were their turnovers and special teams. Matt Dodge has a lot of talent, but struggled his rookie year. The Giants could have pinned their hopes to him again this season, but realized the importance of the position and made a move to ensure steadier production. In comes Steve Weatherford, a punter who had a very successful season and a guy who won’t smack line drives when we desperately need the field position. An under the radar signing sure, but an important one nonetheless.

Finally, there is Brown. Like Carr, Brown is a player who has worn royal blue before, as he was originally drafted by the Giants in the 4th round. He was quick and a good receiver out of the backfield, what seemed like a nice replacement for Ward. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles tendon and was released the following season. He bounced around quite a bit, but now he is back. If he can prove he is healthy, he might be able to fulfill the promise he showed giving the Giants a nice security blanket in case of an injury to Jacobs or Bradshaw. Or we can flashback to 2008 and try another three-headed monster. (would that make Brown wind?)

None of these moves are real splashy, but they help to bring depth and stability to an already stacked roster. If the Giants can re-sign their remaining free agent (Steve Smith) the Giants should be in good position to make the playoffs, even though the Eagles are in their division.

Honestly the most important thing for the Giants is going to be the maturation of their young talented players. I’ll touch on that in another post sometime soon.

Jacobs Taking Less Money

Via Football News Now

“If they happen to ask [me] to take the pay cut and it is an unnecessary amount, then absolutely not,” Jacobs said viaESPN New York. “But other than that, if it is something that can be done, then yes, then whatever is going to get the team going and winning”

Jacobs added that he understands the business aspect of things and doesn’t want the same situation that forced the Giants to part with Derrick Ward to happen to either him or fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw

“The whole thing with Ahmad and me, I want to be a Giant, no question about it,” he said. “But it is a business and I want to be able to play with Ahmad and play with the Giants but I don’t know what is in store, I don’t know what is going to happen. So I keep my fingers crossed and workout as hard as I can and hope I am a Giant next year.”

Jacobs continually spoke of him and Bradshaw as a unit because he see the duo as a package deal.

Despite all the distractions Jacobs can cause by his cockiness, it is comments like this that make me view Jacobs as one of my favorite Giants. It is not often you get a player so dedicated to the team, and it is nice to know that even though Jacobs was demoted last season, he still loves being a Giant.

Bradshaw is a good running back, but the best plan for the Giants is to trot out the 1-2 punch of Jacobs and Bradshaw. Neither one of these guys would be an ideal feature back. With Bradshaw potentially becoming a free agent, it would be huge for the Giants to clear some cap with a cheaper contract for Jacobs so the Giants don’t have to invest too much money into the running back position.

Last season I was really excited with the reemergence of Jacobs in the latter half of the year. Like it or not Jacobs gives us our identity on offense, or at least what our identity should be if we want to return to the SuperBowl. I am all for giving Bradshaw more carries, since he has proven, outside of the fumbling issue, that he can be an explosive playmaker for us, but I believe Jacobs is the one who should start the games for us. His bruising style of running dictates the flow of the game, and can help our offense get into a rhythm.

What Has Happened to the Giants?

With roughly the same team last season, big blue went 12-4 with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This season looked to have similar results as the Giants jumped out to a 5-0 start; however, they are 1-5 in their last six games. What has happened to this team that is only two years removed from winning a Superbowl?

Offense

Offensive Line: Despite what analysts have been saying about the Giants offensive line, the unit has never been the best in the league. Outside of Chris Snee there is no dominant member of this unit, and while they work well together, they are rarely overpowering. To make matters worse this unit has taken a step back this season. Whether it is due to old age or some injuries we do not know about, this unit has made too many mistakes.

Injuries at RB: Last season Derrick Ward was the change of pace back, but he departed in free agency. Stepping in his place was Ahmad Bradshaw, who picked up the load nicely. The problem is he recently sustained a pretty severe injury for a running back and this has caused the Giants to lose that change of pace to Jacobs.

No More Plaxico Burress: It might not seem like this is a big problem because the Giants passing game has been pretty good so far this season. The problem is while the receivers have performed well, none of them are true number one threats. Burress had such an advantage over defensive backs that teams had to keep safeties back in coverage to make sure he didn’t burn them. Despite the Giants best efforts they have not been able to burn defenses when they overplay the run. This has led defense to keep extra men in the box, another factor hurting the running game.

Injury to Eli Manning: This might not be the whole reason, but after news of Eli’s injury his play dropped significantly. With the lack of production out of the running game, the Giants needed Manning to step up and carry the offense much like his older brother has done this season. Not that he has played poorly, but outside of the Falcon game he was unable to do this. Outside that falcon game the Giants only scored over 20 points once since the injury and that was in a blow-out against the Saints.

Defense

Front Four: Fred Robbins who was a force in the first half of 2008 has done very little except receive encroachment penalties this season. Cofield and Bernard have not faired much better, and Canty is just getting back from injury. Osi has not been the force many expected and Tuck seems to be really hindered by his injury. I truly believe Kiwanuka has been our best pass rusher but that has not been enough to get a consistent pass rush.

Injury to Kenny Phillips: The Giants were not prepared to deal with this loss. Michael Johnson is an average safety at best, whose deficiencies were hidden in Spagnoulo’s scheme. Also as we have seen C.C. Brown is not a starting safety in this league. Last year the Giants had a much improved James Butler and Phillips in nickel situations, now they have Johnson and Rouse, a player picked up on waivers, making safety a weakness for the Giants. Unlike Spagnoulo, Sheridan has not shown an ability to hide the weaknesses on the defense, and it has hurt the team from covering the middle of the field in the redzone, and from limiting the big play.

Linebackers: They were a big weakness last season but Spags got them attacking a lot last season, filling up the holes in the running game. Like stated early Sheridan has had a problem hiding the defenses problems.

Play against the run: With the problems at defensive tackle, teams have little problem running up the middle to get the tough yards on the Giants. On runs to the outside the Giants have done a horrible job sealing the edge. With the ability to run to the side and up the middle teams have been able to run all over the Giants. The play of the corners has been pretty good, but with pass rush issues and poor run defense their job has been very difficult.

Bill Sheridan: More a leftover from Tim Lewis than Spags Protege, Sheridan has shown a poor command of the defense. This guy really seems clueless out there, as I have never seen a guy consistently out coached like this guy has. If the Giants wise up and let this guy go I am not certain he will get any job in the NFL. It is not like he made any linebackers better while he was the linebackers coach. He just does not have a good feel for the game or his personnel. He never calls a blitz at the right time, sending extra men against max coverage way too many times. He makes coverage mistakes, like putting Canty on tight ends, and Boley on receivers. More importantly his players seem confused out there, missing way too many assignments.

Overview

Offensively the Giants were a very good running team. With the loss of Burress teams have not been afraid to overplay the run. Combining this with the loss of Ward, the injury to Bradshaw, and the diminished play of the line and the Giants have not had the most effective ground attack. This puts more of the offense on Manning and for whatever reason, he has not been able to answer the call.

Defensively the Giants have not played well against the run, allowing struggling teams to keep drives going fairly easily. The pass rush has not been good enough to slow teams down, especially in big situations. When teams get into the redzone they can run the ball and have easy targets in the middle of the field. The problems are not extremely severe but Sheridan has trouble coaching during the game allowing teams to score in big situations.

The season is not over for the Giants as a few changes could really improve the team. The playoffs are not out of the question, but they have to start winning games.

Later I will post ways for the Giants to improve

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