The New York Giants retooled defensive line has generated fewer sacks than any NFL team through Week 5.
Pressure busts pipes. It will also rattle opposing quarterbacks. The success of any defense starts up front, with its defensive line. A team can have Deion Sanders in the secondary, Brian Urlacher at mike linebacker and Rod Woodson playing centerfield; if your defensive line can’t penetrate the line of scrimmage, you aren’t going to have much success. With this in mind, New York Giants gm Jerry Reese opened the team coffers to sign players who could help Big Blue avoid a repeat of 2015.
Last season, the Giants defense was historically bad. They gave up 298.9 yards per game through the air, the closest a team has come to 300 in league history. They were dead last in sacks, with 23.
The Giants guaranteed Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon a combined $17.75 million this upcoming season to correct the issue. The result so far has been another league-low sack output. Big Blue has four sacks through six games. They’re no longer (at least currently) the worst pass-defense in the NFL, but they’re still at the bottom-half of the league.
Pierre-Paul and Vernon are tied for the team lead in sacks, but that’s misleading for two reasons; they each have one and the guy they’re tied with is CB Leon Hall.
The DE duo has, at times, been disruptive. Though they aren’t getting to the QB as often as the Giants need them to, they did make it somewhat uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay last week. Rodgers went for season-lows in yards per attempt (5.8) and completion percentage (51.1), and threw two of his three interceptions on the season.
They aren’t paid just to be disruptive, however. They’re paid to make plays. JPP and company have to find a way to do so, more consistently than they have thus far.
Granted, the offense has helped their cause. The abysmal play of the offensive line and Eli Manning (6 TOs) has put them in tough spots, getting stops the having to go right back out onto the field, time and time again. The Giants were dominated by the Packers in time of possession, 37-to-23. That has been on ongoing trend. Big Blue can’t sustain drives, or turns the ball over, and the defense is being asked to do too much. They played well enough to give themselves a shot at Lambeau, the offense just couldn’t seize an opportunity.
The Giants return home to host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6, and are in an early season must win situation. For as long as they struggle, every week will be must win. Whatever success they find, we’ve learned the onus will be on the defense. They’ll need to lead the way, as they did against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
The Ravens contest could end up being a breakout game for the D-Line. Coming into Sunday, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times in five games. The Ravens are also near the bottom half of the league with eight giveaways.
If the Giants can’t have success against them, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. In the midst of a slump, playing the Ravens presents Big Blue with an ideal match-up. They’re success, or lack thereof, will also be used as a barometer. Can the Giants get their pass rush going against a team that has deficiencies in pass protection?
No one assumed it was a big deal when the offense only put 16 points on the board against the Saints. In hindsight, the writing was on the wall. A team is what the final score says it is. If the defense can’t get to Flacco on Sunday, it should be taken literally.