The New York Giants had an abysmal pass rush in 2018, which is why they need to step up as a group next season.
There are many different aspects that go into having a playoff-caliber team. Yes, the quarterback and the offense as a whole is extremely important. Yes, the secondary needs to be talented. But one of the overlooked aspects is the success of a team’s pass rush.
As a defense, it’s imminent to get pressure on the quarterback and get in their head. Any quarterback will begin to make mistakes if you get constant pressure on them. I understand you can then say, “Well, what about guys such as Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz, who can be mobile and extend the play outside the pocket?” Well, then pass rushes need to adapt to that, and contain the outside and teach edge rushers to “stay home” when rushing the quarterback.
At the end of the day, it’s all designed for the type of quarterback they’re facing.
Let’s look at the facts here.
In 2018, eight of the top-15 pass-rushing defenses were playoff teams. The Chiefs, Bears, Saints, Eagles, Ravens, Texans, Seahawks and Rams all made the playoffs. Why? Because they were able to disrupt opposing quarterbacks and their decision-making processes all season long.
In 2018, the New York Giants proved to have one of the worst pass rush defenses in the NFL. They tied for second-to-last in the league with only 30 sacks the entire year. The only team that was worse was the Oakland Raiders, who totaled 13 sacks all year.
Big Blue’s leading pass-rusher was Olivier Vernon, who racked up only seven sacks all year. Yes, it did help him make the Pro Bowl, but let’s be real: the only reason he played in it was due to the fact that the Bears’ Khalil Mack was injured. But even so, the Giants don’t have their leading pass-rusher from last season after trading him to the Cleveland Browns.
The next leaders in sacks were B.J. Hill with 5.5 and Lorenzo Carter with four. Those aren’t impressive numbers at all when considering the fact that they were No. 2 and 3 on the team via total sacks.
That being said, the Giants pass rush needs to absolutely step up next season. They need to get to the quarterback more, plain and simple. Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher needs to have individuals such as Carter, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin and even Dexter Lawrence hit home. The latter even wants to prove he can rush the passer and not just be a run-stopper.
Big Blue has the bodies to get it done, they just need to actually get it done. There’s no excuse with some of the athletes they employ at the edge rusher position.
A pass rush is designed to take the pressure off of the secondary, too. This is especially the case if it’s a young secondary.
And what do the Giants have? A young secondary. Safety Jabrill Peppers? Going into only his third year at 23 years of age. Cornerback Sam Beal? Going into his second year (essentially his first year due to the fact he was injured all of 2018) at 22 years old. Cornerbacks DeAndre Baker and Julian Love? Both rookies at 21.
Therefore, a good number of defensive backs are too young and inexperienced to really have the entirety of the defensive success lie on them. That should give Bettcher and the pass rush more of a reason to step up and wreak havoc in the backfield.
All-in-all, the aggression on the defense needs to be more present in 2019. Thirty sacks aren’t enough. If the pass rush doesn’t immensely improve, fans could very well see another season in which the Giants are sitting at home in January.