Wilson and Jacobs will be Giants' new 'Thunder and Lightning' running back tandem
Who were they handing the ball off to in their run-first approach? Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne, of course. The first "Thunder and Lightning" running back tandem that I ever remember seeing (I was 9 years old when Dayne was drafted). That probably brings you Giants fans back. A time when the jerseys were cooler and the stadium (which was named after the team rather than a corporate sponsor) was not an eyesore. The Giants have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy twice since then, but those early-2000's teams still looked a whole lot better than the 0-4 Giants do this year.
It looks like Big Blue now have their sights set on returning to the backfield approach that they used back then. With the struggles of David Wilson and the recent release of backup running back Da'Rel Scott, head coach Tom Coughlin said "it's safe to say" that Wilson and Jacobs will be the team's 1-2 punch in the backfield. With Wilson likely to get more snaps thanks to his youth and big-play ability, and Jacobs slated for short-yardage and goal-line work, I think this backfield is shaping up to be a "Thunder and Lightning" combination once again.
Jacobs is 31 years old and has just 168 carries for 589 yards since 2011. He's got some wear and tear on his legs and it shows, as his explosiveness is certainly not where it was during his prime years of 2007-10. He's still a massive 256 pounds and will be a serviceable option when the Giants need to pound the rock for just a few yards. Given Jacobs' age and recent production, however, I believe Wilson will carry the load for the most part between the 20's and in passing situations.
The approach is reminiscent of a more recent running back combination that the Giants fielded during their Super Bowl days - "Earth, Wind, and Fire." The "earth" portion of the backfield is back in New York, as Jacobs held that role for the Giants in their 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl campaigns. "Wind" (who some may know as Derrick Ward) has since retired from football, while the "fire" (Ahmad Bradshaw) is in Indianapolis. The current situation is more similar to the 2011 team than 2007, as Ward was gone by then and the backfield was just Bradshaw and Jacobs, who each carried the ball 150+ times.
The Giants had hoped that Jacobs' new role in the backfield would be held by Andre Brown, who was productive in ten games with the team a year ago. Brown broke his leg in the preseason, however, forcing the Giants to lean more heavily on Wilson than planned in the early going. Wilson responded with lapses in ball security and pass protection, landing himself in Coughlin's doghouse. He seems to slowly be climbing his way out, however. Brown will be eligible to return in Week 10. Whenever he's ready to play, he'll reclaim a significant role in the offense.
Hopefully this 1-2 punch will allow Wilson to worry less about the between-the-tackles work and take some of the pressure off of him to be an every-down back. The kid has an enormous ceiling and it will be exciting to watch him if he can get things going. He remains a must-own in fantasy, but is still a dicey play until we see him post some decent numbers. Jacobs is only worth rostering in touchdown-heavy and deeper leagues.