This morning, we wrote that the New York Giants offensive and defensive lines' improved play showed quite clearly in the 26-3 drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers. On Wednesday, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News credited Mathias Kiwanuka's reinsertion into the defensive line for much of the turnaround.
Sound familiar? That's because last week we wrote in this space that the poor play of the front four and the glut of talent at linebacker made sliding Kiwi down a no-brainer. Looks like Perry Fewell is yet another loyal reader of Giants101.com (we kid, we kid).
More from Vacchiano, who points out that over the course of the season Kiwanuka was playing in less than half the defensive snaps given how often the Giants find themselves in a nickel defense in today's pass-happy NFL:
On Sunday, however, he took 62% of the defensive snaps, including 22 at defensive end, 15 at defensive tackle and one as a linebacker standing at the line of scrimmage on the last play of the game. He had a sack and got good pressure both up the middle and around the end.
The Giants harassed Smith all day, sacking him six times, hitting him nine times and playing a big role in his uncharacteristic three interception performance. Previously, Big Blue had only eight sacks…through five games!
While we're inclined to use stronger verbiage while we pat ourselves on the back for calling this one, we'll defer to Vacchiano, who wrote that the results and the new position for Kiwanuka were "probably not a coincidence."
Although Kiwanuka is typically, cryptically Coughlin-esque as to whether he'll remain in this old-but-new role, he clearly implies in the story that he likes to be in the trenches. Given both the early results and the youth (Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger) and talent (Keith Rivers) behind him at linebacker, this one's a no-brainer to us.
Against a Washington Redskins team that in Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris has enough speed out of the backfield to kill you if they break containment, they're going to need the physical Kiwanuka to set the edge across from Jason Pierre-Paul, all the while keeping Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck as fresh as possible for pass rush situations.
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