The New York Giants defense has put the team in a position to win their last three games. During that time period, Big Blue has forced 12 turnovers, which has enabled this unit to become ranked second in the NFL in turnover ratio. However, the immense amount of turnovers the Giants have created over the past several weeks have covered up several glaring weaknesses in the defense. In fact, aside from forcing turnovers, the Giants defense just isn't very good right now.
This article is not intended to diminish the importance of turnovers. A timely turnover can be the difference between winning and losing on any given Sunday. However, as the Giants begin to get into the most difficult portion of their schedule, the defense is going to have to stop somebody without banking on the opponent to make a poor decision with the football. Turnovers are nice, but they can not be the only way a defense is capable of stopping an offense.
Big Blue currently allows an average of 382.3 yards per game, which ranks them 25th in the NFL in that category. Furthermore, the Giants just allowed Isaac Redman to run for 147-yards on 26 carries. A week ago, Tony Romo threw for 437-yards on the Giants. The week before that, Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins put up 480-yards of total offense.
Giving up that many yards on defense is not a winning formula in the NFL. The Giants were able to get away with it against Washington and Dallas. Big Blue is more talented than both of those squads. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the first talented team the Giants have played who encourage a physical, smash mouth style of football. The defense was worn down as the game progressed and Ben Roethlisberger was able to take his time in the pocket and throw to wide open receivers down the field.
The only thing that has kept this defense afloat has been an occasional sack and a flurry of turnovers. However, the thing about turnovers, is that good teams generally do not turn the ball over. Below average teams like the Redskins and Cowboys might give away possessions, but the truly elite team's in the NFL are not going to turn the ball over multiple times per game.
For the Giants to compete with the NFL's best, the defense needs to stiffen up. The pass rush has come alive as of late, but the secondary has been unable to stay with their receiver in man coverage, while the linebackers have been ineffective in covering tight ends over the middle of the field in zone coverage. Big Blue has allowed quarterbacks to complete over 63 percent of their passes this season. Again, that is not a winning formula in the NFL.
The key to this defense is the pass rush. As long as the Giants have the ability to get to the quarterback, this team will be in every game they play. However, the front-four can not sack the quarterback on every play. There are going to be times when the secondary must step-up, and for the majority of 2012 they have not.
The Giants are fortunate to have a significant enough lead in the division that the team can afford to play like they did yesterday and still maintain a stranglehold on the NFC East. However, when everything is on the line in the playoffs, the Giants are going to have to rely on something other than turnovers to stop elite NFL offenses.
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