Getting to the quarterback was supposed to be easy for the New York Giants, who made several big moves this offseason to (supposedly) upgrade their pass rush. Instead, their ability to sack the quarterback has gotten anything but a passing grade through the first five games of the season.
The Giants head into their Week 6 game at MetLife Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens dead-last in the NFL with just four sacks generated. For a pass rush that includes a former Pro Bowl defensive end in Jason Pierre-Paul plus big money free agent signings such as defensive tackle Damon Harrison and defensive end Olivier Vernon, it is a major letdown.
Much was expected of this pass rush, which was the centerpiece of the defensive rebuilding effort all done to upgrade a defense that was last in the league in total defense a season ago.
“I only really know the sack numbers when somebody tells me. Sacks are great, they're effective, they make a huge difference,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said this week. “It is not the telltale, in my opinion. It's not one of the statistics that we use that has a great correlation between points allowed and points not scored. To us, we take the most important that correlate most to points allowed.”
It’s a bit of a spin job from the Giants, truth be told. They were supposed to get sacks this year and it just isn’t happening.
The idea behind the revamped pass rush was help fill holes elsewhere on the team. The Giants have had a terrible secondary in recent years and the idea behind the pass rush splurge in free agency was to get to the quarterback so as to negate the pains in the backend.
Instead, the Giants well-below average pass rush numbers show that quarterbacks are sitting in the pocket with plenty of time to throw. Combine that with multiple injuries to their secondary and that $200 million investment in beefing up the defense this offseason is now wanting.
“I’m not surprised. To me, it’s not even about sacks, to tell you the truth. Yes, it’s nice to have but in reality when you look at the games, we’ve been close. We just have to finish with the sack numbers. Our defense has been playing pretty well,” Pierre-Paul said. “We just have to get there and finish. I’m not talking about the D-line I’m talking about as a group. Tackle better. We have done a poor job tackling. That’s every guy on the team, including myself. We just have to get better. That’s why we went out there using shoulder pads today. We just have to finish.
The Giants are No. 20 in the league this year in pass defense, allowing 261.6 yards per game. It is an improvement from last year’s unit that was ranked last in the league.
But it is nowhere near $200 million better.