For the first time in a while, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was not shy when talking about the play of his defensive unit. Throughout the Giants rough start to the season, where they lost six straight, the defense was mediocre at best. But since Big Blue has won three-in-a-row and found a way to get back into the chase in the NFC East, much of the momentum has been generated by the defense.
While the Giants run defense has been one of the best, ranking 11th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed on the ground, their secondary is finally starting to come around and make big plays down the field. Fewell believes that both the run and pass defense have found a way to work together.
"The secondary is complementing the front, the front is complementing the secondary, and that’s what we wanted to have happen with our defense," said Fewell. "They complement each other because we have to work together in order to make the thing work."
The Giants have to look at both sides of the coin this weekend as they host the Green Bay Packers and look to gain ground on the Dallas Cowboys who have a bye week. With Aaron Rodgers still recovering from a broken collarbone, Scott Tolzein will start at quarterback for the first time in his career.
On the ground, the Packers have been successful with the combination of rookie Eddie Lacy and James Starks, as the two have combined for 958 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Giants run defense has been stellar so far this season, something that has been noted time and time again.
More importantly, the Giants shouldn't chalk this game up as a win, even with the future Hall-of-Famer Rodgers, on the sidelines. Fewell understands that the defense cannot take any plays off, but realizes what the ultimate goal of each game is.
"We’re trying to win football games. We’re trying to put wins in the bank, so we’re behind the eight ball right here," said Fewell. "We don’t talk about letdown, we talk about winning this game, no matter who is at quarterback. We talk about winning this game and preparing to win this game."
The Giants may also have to find someone to fill-in for Jason Pierre-Paul who suffered a shoulder injury last week against the Oakland Raiders and is still questionable this week.
"Anytime you don’t have your full complement of defensive linemen or linebackers or secondary guys, there’s always a concern," said Fewell. "I think the guys have done a good job of rallying around each other and I’m going to keep hope till Sunday at 4:25."
Fewell, who has talked about injuries all season, especially involving JPP, believes that if he can't suit up, Cullen Jenkins could be a viable option.
"That would be a really good option for us because he can take on the tight end. He can take on the tackle. He can anchor us at the edge of the defense. He can shed and then we still have a good complement inside of tackles that can do that and do the job," said Fewell. "He has that flexibility to go out there and play that and he’s a tougher, stronger, thicker guy out there that can play the run for us and he can convert and rush the passer out there."
The Packers will mainly focus their attack on the ground, but the Giants defense should not forget about Tolzein behind center. Coming in for the injured backup Seneca Wallace last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tolzein completed 24-of-39 passing for 280 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"I thought the young man did a great job when he came in," said Fewell. "He might not have taken any snaps in that practice versus Philly, but he came in and ran the offense. "They bogged out of the red zone, so obviously he’ll get snaps in the red zone and will probably be more efficient this week, but I thought he did a good job."