Second string running back Brandon Jacobs is unhappy.
On Friday, Jacobs publicly expressed his thoughts about being demoted.
“To be in this business, you have to know that,” Jacobs told ESPN. “No one’s your friend in this business. This is a cutthroat, backstabbing business. That’s just the way it goes. It’s been like that before me. If you expect anything else out of a business like this, you’re crazy.”
He then goes on about head coach Tom Coughlin:
“Nope, they don’t talk to me about anything,” he said. “They do what they do.”
Jacobs is human. I am sure he is frustrated about being “second string.” Most importantly, he is peeved at the way Coughlin handled the situation. According to Jacobs’ account of this story, Coughlin was not direct with him. Again, this is nothing new about Coughlin. Remember in January 2009, after being phased out of the offense, Amani Toomer was perturbed with the coaching staff .
“No, because no matter what, they have an agenda. They’re going to go through what they’re going to do. I could talk until I’m blue in the face. It’s not going to make any difference. I know after dealing with the head coach, that’s kind of how he is. You can talk to him and do all of that, but if he has something in his mind, that’s what’s going to go on.”
Based on these quotes from Jacobs and Toomer, we can surmise Coughlin’s business model is a closed system. My definition of a closed system is no input or new ideas are welcome. If this is the case, coach Coughlin does not listen to his players. This is in stark contrast to his mentor Bill Parcells. While Parcells was coach of the Giants, he was a tough taskmaster. Despite being a stern leader, he did listen to what his players were telling him. From the book Parcells: A Biography written by Bill Gutman, former Giant Phil McConkey said this about Parcells, “Bill is an extremely intelligent man. A quality that allow him to be aware of everything. He has the capacity to see everything and absorb everything. It’s almost as if he has a sixth sense. Even though he pretty much had a system and fit the players into that system, he wasn’t adverse to taking input from players.” McConkey adds, “During the week after we lost to the Eagles to even our record at 4-4 (1984 season), I saw him having a conversation with Rob Carpenter at practice. Rob was a guy he had a lot of respect for because he was a tough, hard-nosed running back. The two of them must have talked for about twenty minutes. I was real close to Carpenter and asked him later what it was all about. Carpenter said, ” He asked my opinion and I told him he ought to play Joe Morris more and you more on third down.” That’s when I took over the role as the third-down receiver. Joe also began to get more carries and was soon showing his immense talent. After that, things began to turn around. Here was Carpenter, a running back, telling him to use Joe Morris more. But that’s why Bill listened. There were always certain guys he would listen to.”
If Coughlin would be more open-minded, perhaps, the Giants would have won more Super Bowls. His leadership style has cost the Giants. In 2008, the Giants should have repeated as champions. Another dissenter Tiki Barber was flummoxed with Coughlin’s behavior in 2006. Unbeknownst to many of the players, in the latter part of a season, Coughlin would continue to work his players too hard in practice.
”I think he has to start listening to the players a little bit, and come our way — their way — a little bit,” Barber said. ”I don’t know if you realize this, but we were in full pads for 17 weeks, and with the amount of injuries that we had, it just takes a toll on you. You physically don’t want to be out there, when your body feels the way you do, in full pads.
”It probably doesn’t have a really detrimental effect on how you practice or how you play. It does on your mind. And if you lose your mind in this game — their game — you lose a lot. That’s something he has to realize. And I think he does.”
Getting back to Jacobs, did Coughlin’s awkard handling of the situation lose Jacobs? Is Jacobs pretty much done?
Well, Coughlin attempted to clean up the situation. According to New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano, Coughlin dodged a question about confronting Jacobs directly about becoming second string. Jacobs’ truth is the coaches never told him anything. Coughlin responded, “I’m not sure of all of that.” Since Jacobs is an emotional guy, will he mentally check out? Even though, Coughlin did botch this issue, Brandon Jacobs best days could very well be behind him. Here at UltimateNYG, Pete thinks this is true. Being a former NFL scout, Pete can see things through a different lens. Agree or disagree, but his evaluation of Jacobs not being able to be productive in this league again has value to the way we see the game. The injuries plus the wear and tear of being a running back in this violent professional sport has taken its toll on Jacobs. In this article from Slate magazine, Bill Walsh points out that “players naturally want the big contracts, and to get those you’ve got to have the big yardage totals. Hardly anyone thinks ahead about how three or four consecutive seasons of 250 or 300 carries can take its toll.” Nevertheless, Coughlin could be drawing the same conclusion as Pete. As wide receivers coach under Bill Parcells from 1988-1990, Coughlin saw first hand the deterioration of running back Joe Morris. In 1989, Morris broke his right foot in preseason. He never played another game for the Giants. Despite having different running styles and body types, Jacobs (like Morris) has suffered many injuries.
Bradshaw supplanting Jacobs as the starting running back makes the Giants better. But we’ll speculate that Coughlin not communicating with Jacobs did not help the Giants.