The New York Giants have the opportunity to win 10 games this season a squeak into the playoffs as a Wild Card. However, that doesn't hide the fact that there are several players on the roster not playing up to their full potential. It begins with Eli Manning, who is the unquestionable leader of this football team. However, the pass rush has been relatively ineffective this season as well.
The Giants defense is built upon getting to the quarterback without blitzing. That's how Big Blue was able to storm through the playoffs in both 2007 and 2011. However, this season, the Giants have only gotten 15.5 sacks from the supposedly dominant defensive end trio of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. That's 15 less than a year ago, and the Giants' secondary has been exposed because of it. Tuck does not believe that the Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh should fear the Giants pass rush on Sunday.
“He shouldn’t,” Tuck said. “Not at all. There’s been years here it should have been feared. But this year, we haven’t had that year.”
There are reasons for the Giants inability to get to the quarterback. First off, Tuck is no longer a dominant pass rusher. He struggles creating separation between him and his opposing offensive linemen after initial contact. Umenyiora is purely a speed rusher who can be neutralized with an athletic offensive tackle, while Pierre-Paul has been routinely doubled and chipped at the line of scrimmage this season. Furthermore, quarterbacks have been throwing shorter, quicker passes to put more pressure on the Giants secondary to make plays as opposed to the speed rushers.
However, the Giants must find a way to get their pass rush going if they want to have a chance to beat the truly elite football teams in the league. We've seen this team come out and sack Aaron Rodgers five times, and then fail to get any consistent pressure on Matt Ryan last weekend. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewel believes that the defensive line has been frustrated with how teams have been countering the Giants pass rush this season.
“I do believe this about them,” Fewell said. “They’re a proud unit. I think they will have success in the next couple of weeks. And I think you’ll see their numbers go up [...] I think they’re frustrated a little bit mentally because of how [opponents] are taking their approach against them. I think it weighs heavily on them because they are a very proud defensive unit.”
Fewell is an optimist. If the Giants make the playoffs, they are only going to play the best of the best for the remainder of their 2012 campaign. It's not easy to suddenly come alive against the fiercest competition the league has to offer. But there is no doubting that this unit has talent. These are the Giants we are talking about, and if history has shown us anything, it's that this team will come to play in when their backs are to the wall. The emergence of a consistent pass rush must be part of that equation.
Also…Aaron Rodgers, Baltimore Ravens, Eli Manning, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, John Harbaugh, Justin Tuck, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora