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New York Giants Search for Linebacker Help Shows Little Faith in Mark Herzlich as Starter

September 18th, 2013 at 6:30 AM
By Doug Rush

A lot of New York Giants fans have been noticing one of the problems on the current defense through the first two weeks of the season; and no, it's not the pass rush, which is a subject for another day. This one is the linebacker situation and the lack-there-of with having able names and bodies out on the field.

It's not so much the outside linebacker spot, as Keith Rivers, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger have for the most part, done their jobs on the field for the Giants, but instead, it's the middle linebacker position that has drawn the most criticism from those all over, and even the Giants coaches and management know this.

Dan Connor was the guy the Giants were entrusting to be the every-down starter in the middle, and he was a decent option in the middle that Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese were able to live with using as the starter, but after suffering his second straight neck burner in Week 1, it forced him to go on season-ending injured reserve and force Mark Herzlich into the starting lineup.

Now, lets make it very clear, we here at Giants 101 think very highly of Herzlich as a person and have always hoped for nothing but the best for him on the field, but when it comes right down to it, Herzlich is not meant to be a starter on the field and best suited to be a backup, which we all saw in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos where he was out of position in the run game and got burned in pass coverage.

So it was only fitting that on Tuesday, the Giants had in former linebacker Jonathan Goff and former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill in for a visit and workout with the team; although neither player walked away from the meeting on Tuesday with a signed deal. At least, not yet. But the interest shows everyone that the Giants don't trust the as-is situation.

If you want to go back even further to the summer, the Giants weren't satisfied with the as-is situation with Herzlich and Connor competing for the middle linebacker job, which saw Reese strongly pursue former Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was released from the team after battling injuries, but when healthy, was an immediate upgrade over both Herzlich and Connor, but Bishop decided to spurn the Giants and sign with the Minnesota Vikings instead, thus forcing the Giants to go as-is in the middle of the defense.

And if you even want to go one step back, the Giants brought back Chase Blackburn on a one-year deal after the 2011 season and had him and Herzlich compete for the starting job and while the Giants gave Herzlich plenty of opportunities to win the job, Blackburn won the job in a landslide of a competition last summer and was one of the more consistent players on a struggling defense. In fact, if Blackburn didn't look for a multi-year deal in the offseason, there's very realistic possibility that Blackburn is still a Giant and not on the opposite end playing against them this weekend as a member of the Carolina Panthers.

In the past, Reese hasn't made the linebacker position as much of a priority like he does with the defensive line, but that philosophy is coming back to haunt him early on in the season and part of the reason why the Giants have surrendered 77 total points in those games. Reese can only ignore the situation for so long before it finally catches up with the defense and big plays and a lot of yards start going against the defense, which has already happened with the Dallas Cowboys and Broncos doing just that. 

It would be wise of the Giants to consider adding a name in the next couple of weeks to add depth and potentially, a starting name that could move Herzlich back to the reserve spot and attempt to make a Giants defense a little more improved with enough time in the season before it's too late to make changes for the better.

Photo credit: BigBlueCowboy via photobucket cc


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Tags: Dan Connor, Desmond Bishop, Football, Jonathan Goff, Leroy Hill, Mark Herzlich, New York, New York Giants, NFL