Brandon Jacobs emerged from Week 11 of the NFL regular season with plenty to smile about.
The last time Jacobs suited up in blue he was starting in Week 6 and posting the best New York Giants rushing outing of the season (106 yards, two touchdowns). The return of Andre Brown and signing of free agent Peyton Hillis means there is little chance of Jacobs taking a starting role again, and he’ll be lucky to see a quarter of those 22 carries he executed against the Chicago Bears moving forward. However, this does not mean Jacobs is to be cast aside. Far from it actually as he can still go home with a sense of purpose.
Jacobs’ final figures in the recent victory over the Green Bay Packers — five carries for nine rushing yards — paled in comparison to his previous outing, though it was the manner of his utilization that was of the utmost importance to the team.
Prior to the home tilt with the Packers, the Giants had converted on fourth-down just once in five attempts this season; the majority of those have come in desperation at the back end of contests in which the G-Men trailed. This success rate was doubled in the space of a single game thanks to some trademark powerhouse running courtesy of Jacobs. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin twice called upon his smash-mouth veteran in fourth-and-short situations in the first half, and twice he delivered behind a vastly improved offensive line.
The sheer fact that Coughlin left his offense on the field in multiple fourth-down situations in the first half is indicative of the growing confidence within the Giants camp; it is a decision that he would undoubtedly have been crucified for had they failed to convert. There is a traditional hesitation surrounding the attempt on fourth-down at such an early stage of proceedings, though when you have a back such as Jacobs whose reliability in those situations is unrivaled it makes the decision that much easier.
Whilst Jacobs’ ability to gain short yardage was receiving some welcome exploitation when moving the chains, it was irresistible down at the goal line. Fellow-rusher Brown made a living in the red zone last season as he finished the campaign with a team-high eight rushing touchdowns, though when the Giants found themselves at second-and-goal midway through the third quarter on Sunday they were only ever going to turn one way. Jacobs powered home from two yards out in typical fashion, much to the delight of the majority inside MetLife Stadium and much to the chagrin of those fantasy football owners who happened to have started Brown for Week 11.
As a former one-third of the famed earth, wind and fire trio, Jacobs has been down this road many a time. The team knows exactly what they are getting from him. Eli Manning and his offense need all the help they can get to keep them on the field recently, making someone that can reliably gain short yardage imperative to their cause. Though Jacobs’ number of snaps may be diminishing his importance to his beloved Giants in 2013 is anything but.