The New York Giants have had a glaring issue on defense for years that simply hasn’t been addressed. However, the new regime offers the promise of change.
When you think back to great defenses the New York Giants have boasted, they were never short on players who were able to run the defense on the field. Quarterbacks, on the defensive side of the ball, have been something the Giants have lacked in recent years.
Outside of 2016, the Giants have struggled defensively for the past half decade. Since 2012, the Giants have finished in the top ten in points allowed just once. When you think about the on-field generals, the players adjusting the defense before the snap, it’s hard to name a few in recent years.
When Big Blue went all the way in 2007, they were led by a loaded defensive line. However, Antonio Pierce was the brains of the operation. It was Pierce who received the calls in his helmet and set the defense up before the play. Unironically, he was the last Giants linebacker to be named to the Pro Bowl.
When the team won another Super Bowl four years later, Antrel Rolle was one of the unquestioned leaders of the defense. He, along with linebacker Michael Boley, and Justin Tuck were often responsible for running the defense. In recent years, the Giants quite simply haven’t possessed similar type players.
Although the Giants are in need of a true signal caller on defense, there is some room for optimism that one will soon emerge. New general manager Dave Gettleman had the pleasure of employing Luke Kuechly in Carolina. Although he didn’t originally draft Kuechly, it was evident how important he and fellow linebacker Thomas Davis were to the team’s defense from an emotional and mental perspective.
Former general manager Jerry Reese never invested more than a fourth-round draft choice in a linebacker, but given what Gettleman had to work with in Carolina, that could very well be changing. The Giants have enough talent to equal the production of the 2016 team but other than vastly improved health, they’ll need a leader to quarterback a somewhat broken unit.
Many have already pointed to Landon Collins being the next great New York Giants captain, but his style thus far has been one of leading by example more than ensuring the positioning of his teammates. Whether he can take the step into developing as a signal caller still remains to be seen.
The Giants can look no further than to a few division rivals for the impact of having an on-field presence that can run a defense. The Cowboys’ defense looks like two completely different units when Sean Lee is on the field while Malcolm Jenkins‘s impact for Philadelphia cannot be understated. Those two players have both had served as the backbones for their respective defenses–something the Giants will need to find in 2018.
All the talk leading up to the NFL draft will be focused on the Giants’ search for a new quarterback. They may finally obtain a new one, just not on offense.