Although the New York Giants are 3-0, their previously dominant rushing attack has been extremely disappointing so far this season. No one is more frustrated than Brandon Jacobs.
“If I finish the season averaging [3.4 yards] a carry, I won’t play next year,” Jacobs told the New York Daily News. “I’ll be done. That’s how much I believe in my ability.”
Burner Ahmad Bradshaw is doing his share by providing 5.7 yards per carry in a change-of-pace role, but third-stringer Danny Ware — who was counted on to supplant the departed Derrick Ward — has been sidelined with an injury since the start of the year. Replacement rookie Gartrell Johnson has been used more sparingly, amassing just 23 yards on six rushes through the first three games. Couple that with Jacobs’ ineffectiveness, and it’s downright incredible that the Giants’ offense is still averaging 26.7 points per game.
But perhaps that shouldn’t be so surprising, considering Eli Manning has benefited from breakout performances by young receivers Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, while picking apart secondaries in the first three games. Of course, New York’s opponents have been the Cowboys, Redskins and Buccaneers – three teams whose defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed per pass attempt, and therefore might have made the Giants’ passing attack look better than it truly is.
If that’s the case, Jacobs had better right his ship soon. And the opposition isn’t getting any easier.
The 6-foot-4, 264-pound bruiser has struggled to break through tackles against Dallas, Washington and Tampa Bay, which are the 25th-, 20th- and 27th-best teams against the run, respectively, in terms of yards allowed per carry. Jacobs’ next four matchups will be against Kansas City, Oakland, New Orleans and Arizona – three of which (excluding the Raiders) rank in the top 12 when it comes to stopping the ground game.
Sure, Manning figures to have his way against those same defenses because they tend to struggle against the pass, but if Jacobs doesn’t find a way to improve his rushing average, the Chiefs, Raiders, Saints and Cardinals will simply drop extra men into coverage and make life difficult for the sixth-year signal-caller.
Manning, based on his career numbers, is unlikely to maintain a 104.1 quarterback rating for the duration of the season, because the opposition will get tougher once the Giants hit the second half of their schedule. If Jacobs’ troubles aren’t behind him by that point, Tom Coughlin’s team may be in trouble.
Jacobs – who was averaging nearly five yards a carry at this time last year – is unlikely to retire regardless of whether he improves his performance over the rest of the season. He signed a four-year, $25 million extension last offseason.
But if his struggles keep up, GM Jerry Reese might have some serious buyer’s remorse.