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Are New York Giants Really Facing a Rebuild or Just a Refinement: Part II, Defense

January 11th, 2014 at 11:00 AM
By Jen Polashock

Most agreed that the offensive side of the ball for the New York Giants was more of a rebuild — mostly due to the offensive line and integral parts like tight end and running back still being a question mark. How about the defensive side? When we left off, we somewhat decided: “Okay, so the offensive side of the ball may be more 'rebuild.' " Defense should be (as of now) more “refine."

While it’s being argued out there that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell must go, we here don’t concur. The overall 8th ranked defense is perhaps what saved the Giants’ season from being a total loss in terms of total lack of wins. That “backup quarterback” theory only holds up about as long as the offense and their propensity to hold onto the ball. Therein was most of the defensive problem: time on the field. The fact that the 0-6 start against “non-backup” quarterbacks (with the exception of the entire Carolina Panthers game/game plan aberration) faced were kept in check for most of the respective games they played.

The 2013 Giants defense ended an 8th ranked overall (10th versus the pass, 14th versus the rush) despite the fact that they had virtually no help from their offensive counterpart. This ranking could have been even higher had special teams covered better, too.

The first goal set out to fix after the 2012 season (for the defense) was work on stopping the run (25th in ’12). Even with some injury issues on the defensive line that was done, as was improving versus the pass (28th in ’12) defense. Incredible amounts of injuries again hit the defensive backfield, but players stepped up and in front of the ball. Shoring up this side of the ball will be done with paper — more along the lines of contracts — and then the draft to keep youth and health flowing.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins has been one of the better 2012 pick ups that’s not a soon-to-become a free agent. The likes of fellow tackle Linval Joseph may go the way that Barry Cofield did not many years ago. A short list of players that should be priority for defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s system: linebacker Jon Beason, defensive back Terrell Thomas, safety Stevie Brown, and cornerback Trumaine McBride. Depending upon their price tags as well as health, the following players may get a look but draft or free agency may be a better option: linebacker Keith Rivers, cornerback Aaron Ross, and defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and safety Ryan Mundy may not wear blue ever again, even for depth purposes. Slight tweaks should fix the defense in the way of improvement, but what would sincerely aid them? Sustained health and players that stay on the field for vast majority of the season are needed.

Whatever your take on the “rebuild” versus “refine” (choose your own verbiage) debate for the team, it’s just that: your take. Co-owner John Mara has his own version too, for what it’s worth.

“I just don’t think that merits cleaning house and blowing the whole thing up and bringing a whole new staff in here,” Mara said Thursday on a WFAN radio interview. "I just think in the long run that hurts you. There comes a time when you have to do that. I don’t think this is the time. I think people just have to be patient and accept the fact that we had a lot of injuries this year and, yes, we have missed on some of our draft picks and some of our free agent acquisitions haven’t worked out in the past year or two. But I still have a lot of confidence in our staff here and in our coaches and I think that we will get it turned around.”

Photo credit: Maxim34374 / Foter.com / CC BY

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Tags: Aaron Ross, Barry Cofield, Cullen Jenkins, Football, John Mara, Jon Beason, Keith Rivers, Linval Joseph, Mike Patterson, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Ryan Mundy, Shaun Rogers

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20 Responses to “Are New York Giants Really Facing a Rebuild or Just a Refinement: Part II, Defense”

  1.  Krow says:

    Yeah, it’s not nearly the dumpster fire the offense is. Of course a lot depends on how free agency goes. If we lose players then the situation gets a lot worse.

  2.  jfunk says:

    I don’t care if we pay Beason $6M/yr (assuming it’s structured to get not kill us in the event his health prevents him from playing much/well down the road), he’s worth it.

    Having him around will not only help our existing and future linebackers on the field, but in the meeting rooms and practice field too. Just having him around to show the rest of the unit how a real LB goes about his business and gets it done is worth the money

    •  rlhjr says:

      REPOST

      I thought paying him 5.5 to 6.0 would be just fine. Especially in light of what Willis and other high performers make at the position.

      The question as always is will anyone take the bait? It’s no secret that this guy could still play. Kuechly is a hell of a player. He’s also cheap right now. Blackburn’s price was right too. The Panthers really did not want to pay Beason.

      I’d love to keep this guy. Because he is capable of raising the level of play of those around him. The guy is “almost” a superstar caliber player. He’s one Reese and Ross should study closely. Because they need to draft a player very much like him within the next two years. Basically Antonio Pierce with above average athletic ability.

  3.  jb322 says:

    I think you made some grammatical errors there… Couldn’t resist!

  4.  Dirt says:

    Dan’s absolutely right that Eli is going nowhere. But Jim raises an excellent point:

    Eli played awesome with a solid OL in 2011. He played poorly with an average OL last year. He played terribly with a terrible OL this year.

    If the argument is his play is tied to the OL (which I personally don’t buy), then he needs a solid OL. And if his salary makes it difficult to build an OL fast, or if doing so makes you have to gut significant parts elsewhere, then you may have to accept a continued string of mediocrity as he struggles or the rest of the team struggles.

    Again, it’s moot because he won’t be cut, but his salary is a very real impediment to improving the team with much needed talent. Especially when the current coaching regime would never rely on cheaper drafted talent later in the draft to contribute right away.

    •  rlhjr says:

      Rodger that. Eli has got to be about giving up some so that the offense can be augmented around him. Rolle is in the same boat. Hopefully Mr. Mara and/or Reese will take care of both of them down the line.

      As for $nee…..”They shot horses, don’t they?” That’s an ugly thing to say. Guy has kids and a mother. But how the hell else do they get rid on him?

    •  buljos says:

      Maybe I’m off… probably am… but Eli’s salary makes it difficult to build the OL with over reliance on FA with guys like Baas at $8M and Mack at $10M, but what it therefore does is increase pressure on JR to do much better with getting quality starters out of the draft. It’s not likely JR will strike gold with yet additional mid day 2 draft projects, and I don’t get the impression Mr. Mara would endorse that approach to solving the current problem. So if JR believed Eli’s play was tied to the O-line (and I hope to some extent he does), and he can’t afford to spend an average of $8M per starter quality lineman, and he doesn’t want to bet his job on day 2 projects, JR should be inspired to go OT #12 and G/OT #43 expecting day 1 line talent like Pugh to start, and do pretty well. Coaching’s reluctance to start day 1 draft rookie linemen over old busted up expensive war horses is also solvable by JR… remove the option. The two day 1 linemen in 2014 plus Pugh would average $1.8M APY against the CAP… or they’d cost a bit more than half what it would cost to bring in Mack. Indeed, that approach would make Mack an affordable FA to lead that talented but under experienced line. With a good blocking RB and good blocking TE, Eli’s play (as tied to blocking vice the line) in 2014 should be much better.

  5.  rlhjr says:

    Most definitely refinement/fine tuning on the defensive side of the ball.
    They are a strong side linebacker and a solid corner away from being really good.

    They have their fair share of question marks. But what team/situation doesn’t?

    1. Will JPP return to even 90 percent of his former self?
    2. Was last season Tucks swansong? Showing his warrior heart one last time?
    3. Are they going to get the max out of Damontre Moore’s skill set?
    4. Is there a place on the defense for Terrell Thomas? Or is he a feel good story?
    5. What’s the impact of letting “Landfill” Joseph go? DT is very strong position.
    6. Do they bring back Stevie Brown?
    7. Will Trell restructure?
    8. Can Will Hill last the entire season without being suspended or incarcerated?

    They have some really good pieces in place. But Fewell needs to modify his approach and let them dictate vice being pushed around between the 20′s.
    The status of JPP and Tuck (love him of leave him) is key. This defense with a pass rush and linebacking is a completely different and dangerous beast.

    The real hell of the defensive situation is with two early draft picks, they could be over the top. However, with the current state of what is called the Giants offensive line just will not allow any talent to be directed anywhere by there.
    A solid veteran corner could help too. But offensive line, tight end and perhaps running back have priority.

    •  buljos says:

      Agreed… if they do decide McBride shouldn’t start opposite Prince, then they ought to go FA if they can afford it. I would argue they’d be better able to afford it if JR went OT at 12 and OG/T at 43, so that he’d be committing a total of $5.4M APY 2014 CAP on 3 draft day 1 quality starting linemen (Pugh plus 2 in 2014), when starter quality FA linemen like Baas and Mack run $8M APY CAP each.

  6.  Dirt says:

    On an unrelated note:

    I’ve come around on keeping Coughlin. He absolutely should not be the coach of the Giants (if you think he’s not a big part of the problem and that he’s going to turn this around, you, too, are part of the problem).

    So why does he stay? Because he’ll be “given one more chance” in 2014 then shown the door. And when they start taking applications for his replacement, they’ll get the best quality candidates, as those candidates won’t feel like they’re walking into a job where they’ll be fired as soon as adversity hits. They’ll know they will be given the chance to fail a bit but really try to turn things around.

    Compare this to the Cleveland Browns. kujo wouldn’t even interview with them.

    S

  7.  jb322 says:

    As far as ILB’s go, David Harris of the Jets makes $10.6M next year. Ryans, Poluszny and Fletcher all made around $6M. Fletcher is gone, and Poluszny and Ryans are both high due to escalators in their contracts which may make them likely cap casualties. Beason will take $3.5M with incentives to sign. The only reason Harris won’t be cut is because it would result in a $13.5M cap hit for the Jets. LOL, got to love the Jets. My guess is Joseph can be had for the same price as Beason.

  8.  GOAT56 says:

    BBG – no I don’t believe Robinson is a bust. It’s been 2 years and he’s barely played because of inexperience year one and injuries year two. Look at Jernigan and the end of the season. I would be surprised if robinson had a ballard like emergence next year. The denver TE thomas is in his 3rd year and did as little as robinson his first 2 year.

    Jim is just being Jim about Eli. I have been critical about Eli needing to play better an dhow’s he’s lost his pocket movement But Eli is our QB period. If Eli’s ship is sinking we will sink with him because he’s not going anywhere.

    To me we need to re-sign two free agents without any question Beason and Joseph. rlhjr made a perfect comparison of Beason being an AP with athletic ability. With Beason we do have to protect ourselves contract wise but I would overpay per year if needed. We don’t have a replacement and can’t afford with our other needs to create another hole. Maybe fully guarantee year one and give none in the following years?

    Joseph is more important than some think. Joseph is a near probowl player who in my view will be a pro bowl level player starting next year. We drafted him as a raw junior and he’s steadily improved. Jenkins is only a short term fix. Hankins is a nice building block but need at least 3 starting level DTs. If we have Joseph and Hankins we can not worry about DT for the next 3 years assuming health.

    •  Krow says:

      While I agree that Beason and Joseph are our top two FAs and we should make every effort to retain them … there’s no defense against an a-hole team that puts a ridiculous offer on the table.

      •  buljos says:

        yeah… wouldn’t surprise me if one of those teams with huge cap space and DT needs makes him an offer he just can’t refuse. The Giants are still strong at DT following the emphasis by JR pursuant to Mr. Mara’s direction, but I’d still like to see JR pick up South Carolina’s Kelcy Quarles who’s projected to go in the 3rd round.

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