Why the Giants signed Brandon Jacobs

Here is what the New York Giants' decision to bring back RB Brandon Jacobs is and is not:

IT IS NOT an indictment of David Wilson. The Giants were looking at veteran running backs last week, remember, before Wilson's tough season-opening performance against Dallas, and may have signed one of them if it hadn't been for a league rule that would have forced them to guarantee a full year's salary. They were thin at the position. Andre Brown's preseason injury left them with three tailbacks on the roster, all of whom are inexperienced (Wilson is in his second year). The Giants likely would have signed a veteran running back for depth reasons even if Wilson, who fumbled twice Sunday night, had played well.

IT IS a move that can help the Giants in a very specific way. Jacobs played for the Giants from 2005-11 and is familiar with the offense. In particular, he is familiar with the pass-protection schemes that Wilson has not yet mastered. It's understandable that Wilson hasn't mastered them; they're complex, and the standard that was set by his predecessor, Ahmad Bradshaw, was extremely high. If the Giants can deploy Jacobs on passing downs, as they had planned to do with Brown before his injury, he can pick up blitzers and help protect Eli Manning better than Wilson did Sunday night.

Jacobs is surely capable of carrying the ball and even catching it; they would not have signed him if they didn't consider him well-conditioned enough to do those things. But I wouldn't rush to add him to my fantasy team just yet. The odds are that he won't be getting too many touches right away, if ever.

IT IS NOT a sign that Wilson is going to stay benched or is "in the doghouse," to use a favorite cliché of Giants fans on this matter. If Wilson's fumbling issues continue, his playing time would of course be reduced. But the Giants are going to give Wilson an opportunity to prove that the fumbling was a one-game issue, and it's possible he will do so. He didn't lose another fumble last year after the one in the season opener, and who knows? It could be a Week 1 jitters thing. Could be a Cowboys thing.

Benching him last year, when he was a rookie backup, was one thing. But this year, there's no Bradshaw and no Brown, and Jacobs was sitting on his couch last week. Wilson remains the best running back on the roster, and the one they need to use if their offense is going to run the way they want it to run.

IT IS a move they believe will help Wilson. Jacobs is a respected veteran and a good locker-room guy, and part of the reason the Giants wanted him back was to tutor Wilson on the parts of the game with which he's struggling. The plan is still for Wilson to be the feature back long term, as soon as possible, and having Jacobs on the field and in the meeting room should be a benefit to Wilson as he continues the process of rounding out his NFL game.