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.”
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