David Wilson’s fumbling problem has been all the rage here in NY this week. With the Giants thin at RB, they have no choice but to hope that he can shed this habit and quickly.
A few years back, another Giant RB had slippery hands as well. He overcame his issues after Tom Coughlin and crew helped him adjust his style.
Tiki Barber became a regular part of the Giants’ offense in 2000 and averaged nearly nine fumbles from 2000-2003. When Coughlin arrived in 2004, Barber’s fumbles went down and his production went up – way up.
From 1998-2003, Barber touched the ball 1172 times and fumbled 45 times. He would touch the ball over 1170 times between 2004-6 and fumble only eight times.
Barber was destined to be fixed by Coughlin, who is a stickler for ball security. From Bob Glauber of Newsday:
“He said to me, ‘If you’re going to put the ball on the ground, you’re not going to play,’ ” Barber said.
So the running back immediately got to work with running backs coach Jerald Ingram to address the problem. The operative phrase during that transformation was “high and tight,” signifying the positioning of the ball as he ran. Barber would carry a football everywhere, holding it to his chest, with his hand up near his shoulder and his elbow down at around a 45-degree angle.
“I held it like that everywhere,” Barber said. “I even do it now sometimes. I can’t help but put it there in front of me. It became second nature. I even have to tell my kids, ‘If you’re going to carry the ball, you have to carry it like this.’ “
Barber also added another technique to secure the ball. Once he sensed that he was about to be hit, he would take the hand that wasn’t carrying the ball and hold onto his opposite wrist to further protect the ball and add a layer of strength to deal with opponents trying to rip the ball away.
Barber knows Wilson’s problems can be corrected, just like his were. Tiki has been in contact recently with Wilson to give him some pointers. More from Glauber:
“If people are ready to give up on David, that’s ridiculous,” Barber told Newsday. “As much as people want to say it’s in his head, that he has to be smarter and man up and do these things, it’s so much of a mechanical thing. It’s fixable. The key is awareness of when contact is coming. If you watch David’s fumbles, he’s not aware of contact. He just thinks he can go through [the tackler], and by the time the contact comes, the ball is already compromised.”