Giants coordinator Patrick Graham isn’t happy with the performance of his defense thus far, to say the least.
The Giants nearly won the NFC East last year on the heels of their defense — the unit was ninth in scoring and 12th in total defense.
But thus far in 2021, the 11-man group hasn’t repeated that strong performance, and it’s cost Big Blue on various occasions. For example, New York’s defense was abysmal this past Sunday when the Cowboys gained 515 total yards in a 24-point win over their NFC East rival.
So when asked about his unit’s performance through five weeks, Giants coordinator Patrick Graham got straight to the point…
Patrick Graham’s general review of the Giants’ defense so far: “It’s completely unacceptable.” pic.twitter.com/RZxnCRZ3yk
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) October 14, 2021
“In terms of the yardage given up and the loss of the game, it’s unacceptable. Period,” Graham said, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “We get paid –- myself included –- to win games. I’m in this position to help win games. When you give up 500-plus yards in offense, that’s not usually winning football. It’s completely unacceptable. Completely unacceptable.”
Graham’s blunt assessment is totally justified.
Through the first five weeks of the regular season, the Giants defense is 29th in the NFL in total defense (408.6 total yards allowed per game) and 26th in scoring (27.8 points allowed per game).
Not to mention, the secondary hasn’t been as productive as it was last year and is allowing 270.2 average passing yards (22nd in the NFL). This comes after the Giants made strides to further improve the defensive backfield with the offseason signing of Adoree’ Jackson.
The biggest issue
One of the main problems, however, is the lack of a true pass rush. The Giants employ a number of bodies they can utilize to pressure the quarterback, such as Leonard Williams (11.5 sacks last year), Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and rookie Azeez Ojulari, who notched 1.0 sack in each of his first three games.
Any NFL quarterback with time to operate in the pocket is capable of picking apart the opposing defense. Dak Prescott stepped up against Big Blue on Sunday when he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns and an aging Matt Ryan did the same a few weeks ago with a 243-yard and two-touchdown performance.
Inexperienced Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke additionally torched the Giants in Week 2 and threw for 336 yards and a pair of scores.
In all three games combined, the Giants recorded just six sacks. Do the math: two measly sacks per contest.
That’s not the production you want out of your pass rush, especially after you signed your leading sack-getter (Williams) from 2020 to a three-year, $63 million extension and also used a second-round pick on an edge rusher (Ojulari).
Pressuring the quarterback on a consistent basis will help take the heat off the Giants secondary, which is certainly underachieving at the moment.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY