By: Kento Kato
When the New York Giants are good, it is because of their defense. And when their defense is good, it is often because of the pass rush. For the last few seasons, the Giants have struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which put a shaky and often injury riddled secondary in a tough position. This usually saw the opponents put up a lot of points, which resulted in constant pressure on Eli Manning to put up huge numbers with an inconsistent running game.
With a lot of money to spend, the Giants front office went out and spent over $200 million on the defensive side. A while I put emphasis on the pass rush, the secondary has been pretty good this year which has kept the defensive unit as a whole, one of the strengths of the team. They have gone from one of the worse in recent history, to now, a top 10 unit. Newcomer Janoris Jenkins has been good so far. He already has 11 deflections and is on pace for a career high there, has 2 interceptions, and has returned a blocked field goal for a touch down. Dominic Rogers-Cromartie also has 2 interceptions and 11 deflections and while Eli Apple was benched earlier in the season, he has recently responded and the potential definitely seems to be there.
The defensive line received the two huge upgrades in Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon. Harrison, known as a great run stopper has had a good season in doing just that and Olivier Vernon, with the help of a healthier Jason Pierre Paul has been coming on as of late, applying more pressure each week. And while Pierre Paul being a whole year and a half removed from his accident has shown flashes of his old self, there needs to be more credit, or at least an examination, towards Vernon’s season. Many, myself included, were disappointed in Vernon’s early season production. He had failed to get the sacks that so many fans and analysts looked for him to produce. But he is still a huge part of this team. He is just one of two linemen and linebacker to get to the quarterback this season and leads the team with 8 tackles for loss. And he has been doing all of this with an injured wrist for much of the season. Spagnola, the Giants’ defensive coordinator might have found a new recipe to improve Vernon’s production even more. Spagnola has often used linemen as tackles to bring pressure up the middle and he has been doing the same with Vernon recently and was rewarded with a key sack by the end in the 4th quarter. With Vernon being able to move around and his health improving, look for him to build on an already solid campaign and finish the season strong.
We have now talked about the large free agent signing, but the biggest surprise of the season so far has been the play of second year man Landon Collins. He has 74 tackles, 4 interceptions, 7 pass deflections, 3 sacks and 1 touchdown. He was one of the culprits in last year’s horrendous defense with an inability to cover and create turnovers but in his second year, the former Alabama safety has been all over the field, hitting receivers hard up the middle and rushing the quarterbacks off the edge. According to updated odds by Bovada, the Giants standout safety has the 5th best chance to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The media and the fans will always shine a light on Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., but we need to start recognizing this defense as the reason they are 6-3. While Eli has had his moments it has been the defense of the Giants that has carried them to the Super Bowl. I am not saying that this team will win the Super Bowl but this defense has shown that they are capable of willing this team to victories this year. With a lack of the NFL’s best player at any of the defensive positions, they have been getting overlooked, but beware of this unit.