New York Giants: Jason Pierre-Paul Primed To Have Pro Bowl Season
Dec 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is sacked by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the injuries and contract talks in the rearview, New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is primed to have a Pro Bowl season. 

After three consecutive losing seasons, the New York Giants spent wildly to upgrade their bottom-rated defense and bounced back to go 11-5 in 2016.

Their offense was left to fend for itself, however, and slipped measurably. They got down to the business of fixing that offense this offseason. By bringing in veteran wideout Brandon Marshall, tackle D.J. Fluker and tight end Rhett Ellison, to name a few, the Giants added a number of proven commodities to their 53-man roster.

In addition to adding new faces on offense, the Giants also retained long-time defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. By giving Pierre-Paul the franchise tag, the Giants helped orchestrate time for themselves to go forward with an even bigger deal. The Giants and Pierre-Paul agreed to a four-year, $62 million deal roughly a month after franchise tagging him. The Giants finally got their franchise end under a lucrative deal for the first time in his career. With those contract talks now said and done and his health currently in the right place, Pierre-Paul is primed to have a Pro Bowl year this upcoming season.

Last season, Pierre-Paul produced at a high level for the Giants, but he could’ve, without a doubt, been even more productive; a big part of that potential was due to the injury he endured the year before.

Coming into the 2015 season, Pierre-Paul suffered a freakish hand injury when operating fireworks on Independence Day. As a result of this nasty injury, Pierre-Paul lost his index finger and missed the first eight games of the season.

When he returned, Pierre-Paul was simply not himself. Despite recording a combined 26 tackles, Pierre-Paul struggled to bulldoze by opposing tackles; he was pushed around and struggled to line up on the outside. At the end of the day, he was not his elite self in his time on the field in 2015 and clearly needed the offseason to regroup.

In the offseason, the biggest facet of his game that Pierre-Paul needed to work on was playing around his hand woes. After wearing what was essentially a massive hand glove on his right hand, Pierre-Paul began to work on getting used to wearing a four-finger glove – a piece of equipment he had to become adept to wearing. While he was able to play with the hand glove in 2015, Pierre-Paul simply couldn’t continue to use that on his hand going forward.

After getting himself together in the offseason, Pierre-Paul inked a one-year, $10 million deal with the Giants to essentially prove that he could return to his stellar self -which he did. Pierre-Paul returned to playing at an elite level last season. With the glove off his right hand, he was able to return to being his commanding, run stomping self.

Finishing the year with a combined 53 tackles and 7.0 sacks, Pierre-Paul played to his potential in the 2016 season. However, 12 games in, he was thrown yet another curveball.

Unfortunately, Pierre-Paul suffered a sports hernia in Week 13 against the Cleveland Browns and was forced to sit out the remainder of the season. His absence from the Giants defense was a big blow for a team that looked upon him as a leader. [

Primed for the Future:

Now, with the sports hernia, as well as the hand woes in the past, Pierre-Paul is primed for a Pro Bowl season.

When healthy, Pierre-Paul is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL; he’s explosive on the outside, is great against the run and is a matchup nightmare. He’s also adept to batting down passes on the line. More importantly, though, he’s the leader of what has become one of the best defensive units in the league.

While Landon Collins and lockdown corner Janoris Jenkins have evolved into stars at their respected positions, Pierre-Paul remains the leader and veteran presence of the Giants on that end of the ball. He’s also the longest tenured Giant after Eli Manning.

Going into his eighth year with the Giants, Pierre-Paul has always been one of the high-profile names associated with the Giants throughout the decade. However, given the last few roller-coaster years he’s endured, Pierre-Paul’s name has diminished a bit.

Having completed playing on a one-year “prove it” deal, Pierre-Paul can now continue without thinking about a future contract. With a four-year deal and $40 million guaranteed at his disposal, there is no obstacle that should prevent him from excelling in 2017.

With his explosiveness back and the contract talks in the rearview mirror, Pierre-Paul will look to piggyback off the success he endured in 2016. To envision a 10+ sack season, as well as a combined 65 tackles is definitely not ludicrous. The more important factor in Pierre-Paul’s play is the fear factor.

Will he be the Pierre-Paul of old who teams fortify their efforts towards shutting down? When you see him line up on the outside, will you see a formidable edge rusher? The presence and fear factor will be the biggest facet to any success Pierre-Paul has – he needs to be feared.

When you put together the fact that he’s healthy with the current state of his contract, Pierre-Paul has nothing preventing him from a Pro Bowl season in 2017.

Robbie Stratakos is a New York Knicks/Giants Beat Writer for Elite Sports NY (ESNY); he also covers the NBA nationally. He previously wrote at Last Word On Pro Basketball and Empire Writes Back. In addition to writing for ESNY, Robbie is an MLB columnist at Baseball Essential. He previously wrote at HardBallScoop - part of Scout/CBS Interactive/247Sports, Last Word On Baseball and District On Deck. He is attending Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York. Follow him on twitter @RPStratakos