There are several areas on the New York Giants roster that will have to answer some serious questions throughout training camp and into the regular season, but the defensive line is not one of them. The Giants have, arguably, the best defensive line in the NFL.
With the trio of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora at defensive end, opposing offensive lines are going to have a hard time keeping Big Blue away from their quarterback as it is. However, after getting in his first full season as a starter in 2011, defensive tackle Linval Josesph could be the key for the Giants to take their defensive line play to the next level.
Joseph was selected by the Giants with the 46th pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Although many expected him to have an immediate impact at defensive tackle, Joseph had a hard time getting on the field while playing behind veterans Barry Cofield, Chris Canty, and Rocky Bernard.
In fact, Joseph only saw 63 snaps throughout his entire rookie year, almost all of which came in the final two games of the season. Although he played fairly inconsistently during the short amount of playing time he saw during his rookie campaign, Joseph showed signs that he possessed the potential to transform into a capable NFL starter.
Fast forward to the 2011 season, and Linval Joseph earned a starting spot at defensive tackle in training camp after the departure of Barry Cofield to the Washington Redskins in the offseason. However, Joseph once again began the season with inconsistent play, combining for just 13 tackles and zero sacks throughout the first six games before the team's bye week.
However, Linval Joseph's coming out party actually occurred during a Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Joseph had nine tackles throughout the course of the game, and helped limit the Green Bay rushing attack to 2.0 yards per carry between the tackles. For the first time in his career, Joseph consistently overmatched an opposing offensive line for an entire contest. He carried his outstanding performance into the playoffs, and was rated by ProFootball Focus as the best defensive tackle in the postseason (ahead of players such as Vince Wilfork and Haloti Ngata). Although Joseph did not record a single sack in the playoffs, he forced more quarterback pressures than any other player at his position.
This season, Joseph should continue to improve. With all the threats that the Giant's have coming off the edge, Joseph's size (6'4" / 330lb) and strength in the middle should become a massive problem for opposing offensive lines. Without the ability to double-team him, team's are going to give Linval Joseph the opportunity to beat them at the line of scrimmage.
However, the reason the third-year player out of East Carolina could be the X-factor on the Giants defensive line this season is mainly because of where he plays. Joseph only had two sacks last season. Perhaps it was by design, or maybe it was just because he was inexperienced. But he most definitely has the potential to improve upon those numbers.
Furthermore, against a single blocker, Joseph's size and strength will enable him to bring pressure right up the middle. Although quarterbacks already have fits with the Giants' edge pass rushers, there is nothing worse than to have a 6'4"/ 330lb monster coming right up the middle every single play. This can be disruptive not only to an opposing offenses passing game, but it can force running backs to bounce plays to the outside, where the Giants' speedy defensive ends should be able to make the play.
When one closely examines the Giants schedule from last year, the defense had a problem in the beginning of the season stopping the opposing team's rushing attacks. Whether it was Tim Hightower of the Washington Redskins, Fred Jackson of the Buffalo Bills, or Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins, several running backs were able to help teams that had significantly less talent than the Giants to stay in the game by carving up the team's run defense.
If Linval Joseph can step up, improve his technique, and produce on a more consistent basis, not only will he open up the opportunities for his teammates on the outside, but, along with Chris Canty, he can help shutdown opponents rushing attacks between the tackles. This could help minimize the fact the Big Blue does not have a true run-stopping line backer in the middle of the field.
The Giants defensive line would be good even without Linval Joseph. However, for a guy with his size, strength, and athletic ability, he has the potential to produce more than we have seen from him. He has yet to hit his ceiling as an NFL player, and if he comes closer to doing so this season, the Giants could have one of the greatest defensive lines in recent NFL history.
- Be sure to "like" Giants 101 on Facebook and to follow Giants 101 on Twitter
- Text "oneteam" to 20222 to donate $10 to the One Team for the Lights charity initiative.
Related VideosReturning Soon!!!!
No related posts.