Monster backs invade the Big Apple

By Adam Best  |   Friday, June 01, 2007  |  Comments( 6 )

New York Giants
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Like King Kong in his prime, running backs Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber wreaked havoc during their days in the Big Apple. Now that Barber and Martin have retired, there are two new bigger, badder monsters vying to dominate the Gotham Gridiron -- running backs Brandon Jacobs (Giants) and Thomas Jones (Jets).

Jacobs and Jones, both talented bruisers, are likely to put up monstrous numbers in '07. That's the easy prediction. The more difficult prediction to make: Which player will end up being better for their respective New York team?

Brandon Jacobs

At 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds, Jacobs truly is a beast of a back. He hasn't played quite as much as Jones, but he hasn't been around quite as long either -- he's only 24. During the action he has seen, Jacob's stats have been outstanding. Last year he averaged 4.4 yards per rush, racking up 423 yards on 96 carries. Considering how many times Jacobs' number got called to handle goal-line and short-yardage situations, his yards per carry average becomes even more impressive. Still, those goal-line situations are where Jacobs excels -- he racked up 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons, despite backing up Barber.

The only problem with Jacobs is his rushing style. Jacobs' upright technique paired with his enormous frame will make him an easy target for defenders. Granted, he'll probably dish out more punishment than he'll take, but he definitely will take some hits. His demeanor will help him, as he seems to enjoy bulldozing defenders. Also, his style isn't accidental -- he's mimicked Eddie George, another tall back, believing George's style would be the best fit.

If Jacobs stays healthy and in shape, two areas that historically tend to be problematic for big backs, he'll be in for a heck of a season. With all that offensive talent surrounding him, don't be surprised if he put up a Christian Okoye-like season for the Giants.

Thomas Jones

What's everybody's problem with Jones? He's an animal on the field, something he's proved whenever he's had a legitimate opportunity. Nonetheless, his teams always seem to ignore his performance and dump him in favor of another back. Jets head coach Eric Mangini and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum are different, though -- they recognized Jones' talent and traded for him. Fans and pundits alike are quick to name Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick as the steal of the offseason, but what about acquiring Jones just for moving back 26 spots in the second round? After all, Jones rushed for over 2,500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns the last two seasons as the Chicago Bears' starting RB. Those numbers blow away Moss' stats from the last two seasons.

Led by the "Mangenius," as Mangini has come to be known, the Jets are a smart, hard-nosed football team. After adding Jones, the Jets will be smarter and tougher. He has value as both a rusher and a receiver, and he's a vastly underrated blocker. One of the main reasons the Bears couldn't replace Jones with heralded back Cedric Benson until now was because of how well Jones picked up and blocked blitzers. Unlike some of the NFL's prima donna running backs, he doesn't mind playing a little smash-mouth football, either with or without the ball.

Jones was the perfect offseason pickup for the Jets. Expect him to lead the team at least dangerously close to a second consecutive playoff trip, and to once again top the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

Tale of the Tape

Jacobs is much bigger and younger, but Jones is faster and has more experience. Both players are physical, but Jones' game is a little more versatile. Jacobs is reminiscent of Kong -- too big to be evasive, he just tries to flatten his opponents. Jones does all things well, but nothing spectacular, which is more than can be said for about 20 of the league's starting running backs.

Still, expect Jacobs to put up better numbers this year and beyond. Jones is getting old in running back years, and players like Cedric Houston and Leon Washington will surely cut into Jones' reps. Jacobs is surrounded with better offensive talent, and journeyman back Reuben Droughns shouldn't take away much of his playing time. Jacobs probably won't win a rushing title, this season anyway, but he could end up one of the league's top rushers while carrying the G-Men well into the postseason. Even in New York, that would be a monster season.
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CommentsComments: 6  |  Sign Up  View all comments
11:42 AM
Good article, only comment I have a problem with is "Jones is faster". He may be quicker but not faster. Jacobs was rumored to...
Mad Mardigan
01:51 PM
For those of you that play fantasy football, here's a tip: pick up Brandon Jacobs. This guy is fast and he runs like a freight...
03:41 PM
Look at some highlight film, jacobs has some shifty feet for his size, if he wanted to run like that, he just doesn't have to. I...
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