It is nearly impossible to ignore the presence of mobile quarterbacks in the modern NFL. This past weekend, the nation witnessed incredible performances by Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. The NFC East itself features the fantastic (though banged up) Robert Griffin III.
Once considered a college exclusive scheme, the read- option has made its way into the NFL. Over what seems like the last seven or eight weeks, outside linebackers, defensive ends, and safeties have had their world turned upside down. Suddenly they have a whole separate area of the field to defend.
The New York Giants have been victimized by the mobile quarterback for years. So it begs the question: how can the Giants need to tailor their defensive scheme to address these fleet footed quarterbacks?
Improve the Interior
The ability to contain a mobile quarterback is heavily predicated on winning the battle up front on defense, particularly in the middle.
The most overlooked aspect of the Giants failures in 2012 was the lack of interior pressure. Linval Joseph showed some promise in spots, but Chris Canty was a non-factor too often. Behind the two of them, there was not a whole lot of production.
Rocky Bernard had a bit of a renaissance in 2011 but age caught up with him in 2012. Marvin Austin has not shown enough promise to even be on the roster on opening day next season, barring an other-worldly preseason.
Too often the Giants played Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul on the interior and opponents too advantage in the run game. This also could have been a contributing factor to the wear and tear on the two ends. It is time for the Giants to consider keeping Tuck and Pierre-Paul on the outside more often while rotating the stout Mathias Kiwanuka in with them to give them a blow during games.
On the interior, look for the Giants in investigate in a defensive tackle during free agency. One name to keep an eye on may be Richard Seymour. Don’t forget, the Giants added Shaun Rodgers last offseason. They won’t be scared off by age.
The Oakland Raiders are not likely to bring back the 33-year-old, but he is still one of the most scheme diverse defensive linemen in the NFL. That is something the Giants value highly.
Oakland also has another pending free agent by the name of Desmond Bryant, who achieved the highest rating of any interior defender according to Pro Football Focus (a +16.5 on 645 snaps). Bryant was a better pass rusher than run stopper, but the Giants could use some of that as well.
The Giants would also like to inject some youth here by way of the draft. At the absolute latest, The Giants will add another body here by the third round of the draft.
Continue Integrating Speed at the Linebacker Level
On the next level of the defense, the health of Jacquian Williams will be critical. Expect the Giants to look to Williams to take over more a leadership role on defense, assuming he maintains good health. He can cover ground in a hurry and has great instincts.
Spencer Paysinger has shown that he has solid instincts, but needs to learn to trust them a bit more. The coaches have trusted the undrafted free agent with a surprising amount of playing time in his first two seasons and he has taken advantage. Expect that to go up in 2013.
Keith Rivers struggled with injuries, as did Jacquian Williams. This forced Michael Boley to handle a bigger workload than he would like and it wore him down by December.
Getting healthy will improve the range of the linebacker corps. It will be imperative to add bodies to improve interior pressure, that will be key in defending this “new” breed of offense.
General Manager Jerry Reese knows how to build consistently competitive teams and he is not about to overlook the changing landscape of the NFL when he looks to revamp his team in 2013.
Also…Chris Canty, Football, Jacquian Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Keith Rivers, Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Rocky Bernard, Spencer Paysinger