The New York Giants pass rush is all of a sudden dealing with a number of injuries. How will the unit respond moving forward?
What was once a unit that possessed more than enough bodies has somehow morphed into a group lacking the proper depth, and all it took was a pair of setbacks to change everything.
The New York Giants pass rush employed the number of individuals necessary to run effective sub-packages and for everyone to remain fresh. But after Oshane Ximines’ shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve last week and Lorenzo Carter’s season-ending Achilles rupture this past Sunday, numerous other names either need to step up or continue to impress moving forward.
Markus Golden‘s role will now increase, something no one thought would need to occur in the first place.
Entering the season, the general assumption was that Golden would earn more reps at the edge rusher position than anyone, given the fact that he led the Giants with 10 sacks in 2019. But Golden seemingly didn’t impress the coaching staff to the fullest extent prior to Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, a game in which he saw a significant amount of playing time compared to previous weeks and racked up a half-sack (his first sack of any type in 2020) along with a pair of quarterback hits.
Rookie head coach Joe Judge further confirmed Golden’s increased role on Monday, per Paul Dottino of both WFAN and the Giants official website.
— GiantsWFAN (@giantswfan) October 12, 2020
Golden likely sports the most talent and athleticism out of each of the Giants’ healthy edge rushers, which makes him not receiving a noteworthy number of snap counts until Sunday that much more confusing. Nonetheless, the past is the past, and the near future should be an exceptional opportunity for Golden to show the coaching staff what it’s been missing.
Alongside Markus in the starting lineup should be Kyler Fackrell, an individual proving to be a nice free-agent signing by general manager Dave Gettleman.
Through the first five games, Fackrell is tied for the team lead in sacks with two. Inside linebacker Blake Martinez and defensive lineman Leonard Williams have additionally notched a pair within that statistical category.
Fackrell also leads the ballclub with six tackles for loss, portraying that his ability to reach the backfield isn’t just limited to bringing down the quarterback. Not to mention, his pick-six against the Cowboys provided the Giants with a surge of momentum and showed he could be a play-maker in a multitude of ways.
But what’s additionally crucial within this roster is the depth the Giants possess behind the two aforementioned (potential) starters — there are two rookies who may see increased playing time if they’re indeed prepared for the challenge.
We’ve yet to see seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin receive any defensive reps, despite the talent he could bring to the field. He evidently succeeded at the collegiate level while with Minnesota — twice earning second-team All-Big Ten honors — and could see the field on blitz packages barring any unforeseen circumstances. That’s, of course, if defensive coordinator Patrick Graham utilizes those packages effectively and efficiently.
Cam Brown is in the same situation, and although he was more of an off-ball linebacker at Penn State, the Giants may need to expand the sixth-round pick’s responsibilities in order to provide the necessary depth at the edge rusher spot.
For what it’s worth, Brown racked up a pair of sacks in his final season with the Nittany Lions.
Even looking past that, the Giants will add former Dolphin and Patriot Trent Harris to the mix, per Art Stapleton of The Record. Harris carries familiarity with the coaching staff, having worked with both Judge and Graham in the past.
NEW: Giants are signing OLB Trent Harris to the practice squad after today’s workout, per source. More on Harris’ connection with Pat Graham and Joe Judge in post below 👇 https://t.co/DkNpGssXLs
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) October 13, 2020
Then, you need to consider the non-edge rushers in regard to the pass rush. As previously mentioned, Martinez is tied for the team lead in sacks, and the Giants should certainly utilize his athleticism and talent more when it comes to this area of the game.
The defensive line must step up as well, with Williams producing consistently. After racking up 18 combined tackles, four tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, and two sacks through the first four games, the veteran recorded just one total tackle against a banged-up Cowboys offensive line.
Big Blue’s ability to pressure the quarterback has definitely improved from last year — the defense is already on pace to record more sacks than it did in 2019. A pair of injuries, one of which may not be long-term (Ximines might be back for the Week 8 game against the Buccaneers), shouldn’t halt that type of production.
A “next man up” mentality must be initialized, simple as that.