It wasn’t long ago, December 2008, when two of the league’s top running back stables put on a clinic in a battle for 1st seed placement in the NFC playoffs. Three of the 4 running backs featured in that Giants victory over the Panthers will be on display again tomorrow: Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Brandon Jacobs.
Jacobs scored the final touchdown from 1 yard out in overtime, but the true hero of the game was former Giant Derrick Ward. Ward capped off a spectacular game with two long runs in sudden death.
Without Ward and with Jacobs’s consistency in question after a dismal 2009, this rematch may see a different game plan from New York.
Despite persistent claims by the brass, the culture of the New York Giants has changed. Once a team that used the run to set up the pass, the Giants now set up the run using the pass.
Tomorrow should be a continuation of that formula. Look for the Giants to pass early and often. Ahmad Bradshaw will likely get the first touch of the game, but after that New York is likely to try and spread the field.
Bradshaw, who has become the primary running back, will require a different style of play than now second option Jacobs. In his prime, Jacobs didn’t need defenders to be thinking pass when a run was called. The Giants preferred that he did in fact make contact with a defender and rattle the defense.
Bradshaw is a scrambler who will perform best when he has open space. The best way to create open space is to establish a steady passing attack that can move the chains in 2 plays max.
If this strategy is effective, Bradshaw will have plenty of running room by the second quarter and should be able to make a big play or two.