In Week 1, the New York Giants showed flashes of a defense that is expected to be much-improved. Now the real test awaits them on Sunday.
It is no secret that last year’s Giants defense was deplorable. Last in pass defense and last in the league overall, the offseason was spent with some heavy spending to upgrade the unit. The result is much bigger names who, last Sunday, performed well in a 20-19 win at the Dallas Cowboys.
Only twice last year did the Giants hold an opponent to less than 19 points in a game.
What stood out from the Giants win wasn’t their gaudy sack total – in fact they had none. But they managed to consistently bring pressure on rookie quarterback Dak Prescott that caused bad throws down the field or hit his check-downs. To that end, the longest pass of the day for the Cowboys was 21 yards.
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“To us it’s not whether you’re getting sacks or not, it’s whether you’re affecting the quarterback or not. Jon Berger does that study for me each week. We specifically study, when we apply pressure are we affecting the quarterback? We want those plays to be effective,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said.“I did think we did better as the game went on. Throwing off his back foot or getting him off the spot. Not letting him sit back there and be comfortable. I think there was enough of that and I think the coverage was tight enough where we were able to have enough successful run blasts on pass plays that helped us win a football game.”
The one area that is cause for concern heading into this weekend’s home opener against the New Orleans Saints was getting off the field. The Giants allowed the Cowboys a 58 percent conversion percentage.
And against Drew Brees with an offense that scored 34 points a week ago in a loss at the Oakland Raiders, the Giants have to do better on third downs.
“Where we didn’t play well? We didn’t play third down well. We need to get better at third down. That kind of led to a 14 play drive and then an 11-play drive” Spagnuolo said. “We have to get off the field on some of those key third downs. I did think, at the end of the game our guys were tired. They were on play 78, 79. That’s tough. Thank God it worked out for us. I thought the guys upfront did a good job in the run game. Later on, as we got a feel for what the quarterback could and couldn’t do, I thought we started to get to him a little bit. We were trying to be very smart with that quarterback going in. We thought there was a possibility that he could do some damage with his feet. As the game went on, it didn’t feel like he was going to do that. We started to do some different things with the pass rush. I thought we got to him.”