Everyone agrees the Giants will have to take care of the ball much better in 2011 if they want to be an elite team and do well in the playoffs. Along with Eli Manning (who got some help from his recievers), Bradshaw was the most visible culprit in turning over the ball. The Giants did a great job generating turnovers last year, but they gave it away waaaay too often, and it hurt them.
So, will Bradshaw be able to improve his ball carrying? I took a look at the numbers for last year, and from what I can tell, the signs are good.
We all know Bradshaw had carries taken away from him in the later half of the year. I took a look at his total carries for the Giants' first eight games versus the last eight. During the first eight, Ahmad carried the ball 153 times, for an average of 19.1 times per game. During the last eight games, he carried the ball only 123 times, or 15.4 times per game, a slight decrease, while a fresh and rejuvenated Brandon Jacobs showed on the field that rumors of his demise had been exaggerated.
So how many times did Bradshaw fumble in the first eight games? Four times. That was good for a ratio of one fumble for every 38.25 carries. Not a good number. At all.
During the second half, Bradshaw fumbled only two times across his more limited duties. Not great, but an improvement. What was his ratio of fumbles to carries in the second half of the season? One fumble per 61.5 carries. Not an elite ratio, but definitely better.
Before I looked at these numbers, just from watching the season, I had the sense that Bradshaw had improved, but the numbers at least help give that impression some scale and perspective (how much you want to bet Bradshaw's agent has run these numbers?).
Remember also Bradshaw may or may not have been playing with a lingering wrist injury last year, one that finally took him out of the week 14 Vikings game late in the contest. Ahmad had 11 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown in that game. So, if his wrist is now healthy, that could also help him improve, though we still don't know (and probably never will) how much his wrist affected his ball security last year, if at all.
Which Bradshaw will show up once the season starts: the first half version or the improving second half version? (Let's assume we have a season and that Bradshaw resigns with the Giants.)
My guess is last year was a wake up call for him, and between Coughlin and the whole coaching staff drilling ball security into everyone, from Eli to the receivers to Ahmad, I expect he could continue to improve. He won't be perfect, but I expect he'll be better.
At least I hope so. The last thing I want is for Bradshaw to make me miss - of all people - Tiki Barber!