Giants fans will long remember the days of “Earth, Wind and Fire” aka Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward. Those days, of course, did not last very long. Twin seasons to be exact. But the formula that was stumbled onto, or revisited as the case may be, was not lost on the powers that be.
The game of football is changing right before our very eyes. A quarterback is required to do much more than throw the perfect pass nowadays. He must also be a tall, solid athlete who can take a hit. He must be able to change the play at will, scramble and channel his inner running back when need be. He must be able to see what happens down field before it happens and throw the ball into traffic with pinpoint accuracy. This is the new paradigm for quarterbacks in the NFL. Are things business as usual where the running game is concerned?
Many of the analysts say that this is a passing league, and that is true to a large extent. But there are still teams in the NFL who rely heavily on their running game. The New York Giants are one of them.
With a member of the “First Family of Football” at the helm of the Big Blue ship absorbing much of the fanfare, the Giants have nonchalantly evoked an age old tradition, the tandem running back.
The very term brings to mind the original dynamic duo of running backs, Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor of the Green Bay Packers. It doesn’t hurt any that I saw Lombardi On Broadway last weekend right before it closed. These iconic figures played together from 1957 – 1966 and chalked up nearly 12,000 yards and 133 TD’s. Go ahead. You can say it. “That’s impressive!”
It is certainly difficult, if not unheard of, these days to keep such talent on the same team for a multitude of years. We saw a prime example of that when Derrick Ward high tailed it out of New York, who has not compiled the amount of yards in the last two seasons as he did in his last year with the Giants in 2008…but I digress.
Here comes the, “I have too much time on my hands because of the NFL lockout” stat of the year. In the last five years, the New York Giants have done what no other team has done. Utilizing only two of their running backs, the G-Men have rushed for over 2,000 yards in three separate seasons. That too is an impressive stat. Although it should be noted that the two headed running back of the Jints has changed one of it’s heads three times.
There has been one common thread in the Big Blue tandem, a rather big thread at that. Brandon Jacobs. BJ has been the one permanent fixture in the mix. Ahmad Bradshaw is his latest cohort, and a close compadre as noted in my “Brotherhood Of Backs” article. Following their relationship last season was a breathe of fresh air in a game that gets bogged down with the fiduciary aspects of the business. The lockout being a perfect example. Jacobs and Bradshaw rushed for a total of 2058 yards last season.
While Bradshaw was with Big Blue in 2008, he did not help put us over the 2K mark. It was Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward who raked up that yardage, both going over 1,000 on their own. Together, they rushed for 2,114. Jacobs was the leading rusher with 1,089.
That brings us to the last name in the tandem. Ironically enough, he is set to make his return back to football this season, provided there is one. That man is none other than Ring Of Honor member, Tiki Barber. Love him or hate him but Tiki was responsible for 1,662 rushing yards in 2006. Brandon Jacobs added 423 rushing yards that year put the Giants over 2K.
There have been some teams who have come close to sharing this accolade with us. The Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings have gone over 2,000 with a duo of RB’s in the last five years. The Tennessee Titans did it two of the last five years also. But it should be noted that Chris Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards on his own in 2009. The fact still remains that the New York Giants are the new tandem terrors, despite a fluctuating cast of characters.
So, Giants fans, that is a rather meaty stat that you can sink your teeth into and brag about until your heart is content. To recap, The New York Giants’ two headed running back has rushed for over 2,000 yards three of the last five years. NO two RB’s on ANY team have done that. It kind of makes you feel all warm and tingly. Doesn’t it?