Eli backs Jacobs, who needs to produce

Speaking of embattled running back Brandon Jacobs (above),

Speaking of embattled running back Brandon Jacobs (above), Eli Manning said Monday, "I believe in Brandon." (Credit: Getty Images, 2009)

Bob Glauber

Newsday columnist Bob Glauber Bob Glauber

Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He

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With speculation flying around the Giants Monday that Brandon Jacobs was considering a request to be traded, one very notable and very important man stood up in the embattled running back's defense.

Moments after Jacobs raced out of the locker room without comment, Giants quarterback Eli Manning offered an impassioned defense of his hot-headed teammate. This not even 24 hours after an embarrassing 38-14 loss to the Colts, during which Jacobs threw his helmet into the stands and after which he cursed out Newsday's Tom Rock when he asked whether the incident was the reason Jacobs didn't play the rest of the game.

"I believe in Brandon," Manning said. "He's done a lot of great things for us. He's been a great teammate. He's an emotional guy, and he's a guy that sets the mood for the team."

Manning knows that Jacobs' emotions often get the best of him, something that has happened a bit too often this year. He's understandably miffed about losing his starting job to Ahmad Bradshaw, and he has expressed frustration over that role. There was a report Monday that suggested Jacobs would meet with the team to request a trade, although coach Tom Coughlin said that meeting didn't take place Monday.

It's possible Jacobs will meet with Coughlin or general manager Jerry Reese to air his grievances. But there's little chance Jacobs will be traded even if he requests it. A source close to Jacobs put it to me this way:: "If it happened, I would change my last name to Glauber."

That said, the Giants need Jacobs to stop the antics and start hitting the hole with more authority when he does get the call. He is a bubbling cauldron of intensity, a player who feeds on raw emotion to push for the extra yard. Or should we say he used to be that kind of player; lately, he has done plenty of complaining off the field, but has had little production on it, averaging only 3.2 yards in 16 carries.

Which is why Coughlin offered this sober assessment of what Jacobs needs to do. "There's a way to go about that. Go on the field and prove it," Coughlin said. "Talking about it and constantly bringing it up is not the answer."

Coughlin is correct in chiding his petulant player. If Jacobs wants more carries, he needs to show his coaches he's willing to run as hard as he did in the Giants' Super Bowl season of 2007. You just don't see that fire in him these days, which is why Bradshaw passed him on the depth chart.

But Manning still believes in Jacobs. "He runs hard, and he sets a physical intimidation factor for this team," Manning said. "I think he still has those capabilities, and he's a good teammate. Sometimes he says some things without thinking, but that's because he's emotional . . . He wants the Giants to win.''

Manning had lunch with Jacobs Monday, and they discussed the running back's helmet-toss into the stands. Jacobs said it was an accident, and was apologetic. The NFL likely will dole out a well-deserved fine later in the week.

Jacobs would do well to pay heed to something Manning said about playing in the crucible of the New York market.

"In New York, you have to learn how to win here and that you're going to be praised after winning, maybe a little more than you should," Manning said. "And after losses, you're going to be criticized a little more. It's about dealing with the good and the bad the same way, going back to work the next day, staying even-keeled and moving on."

Manning might be the ultimate example of dealing with New York's schizophrenic dynamic; he never lashes out after a painful loss, nor does he thump his chest after an important win. Jacobs doesn't have it in him to completely shut off his emotions, but he can at least try to rein them in and allow himself to be more functional over the long term.

Enough with the high-maintenance nonsense. It's time Jacobs produces on the field instead of creating distractions off it.

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