Those days are history. The Giants' pass rush is just a shell of what it was just a few years ago. Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are all gone. The heir apparents, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka are both struggling to keep their NFL careers afloat and the Giants have wised-up by fortifying the back end of their defense to compensate.
DT: Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are two solid vets the team brought in last year to dam up the leaky line and they did just that. The Giants shut down some of the league's top running games in 2013. Jon Hankins was taken by the team in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft in preparation for the departure of Linval Joseph in free agency. Hankins has performed as advertised thus far. Markus Kuhn is the fourth member of the rotation. Kuhn is a high-energy, powerful player but can't seem to shake nagging ailments. Jay Bromley, the team's third-round "reach" out of Syracuse is in line for more snaps than anticipated. If he can play well, the unit will be a strength once again.
DE: A lot will be determined by how well JPP can respond to being doubled this season. So far, he's struggled with it. He can no longer beat OTs on ability alone. He has to figure that out and raise his skill level to where it needs to be. Kiwanuka has had issues re-acclimating back to the defensive front. He's still a quality player, but he's a big drop-off from what the Giants are used to. Damontre Moore is the perhaps the club's most talented pass rusher. The Giants are hoping Moore and free-agent Robert Ayers can provide some spark in the rotation. UDFA Kerry Wynn came out of nowhere to make the team and the Giants are hoping they have a real find in him.
LB: Jon Beason is healthy just in time for the start of the season. He's the glue of the entire defense, but the LB unit held their own this summer thanks to free agent steal Jameel McClain, the former Raven schooled by the great Ray Lewis. He is a versatile player who was a cap casualty in Baltimore and he has dramatically raised the talent of a until that has been under siege for years. It's taken a couple of years, but Jacquian Williams has arrived. When he's healthy he's fun to watch, not to mention productive. Rookie Devon Kennard hit the ground running and has been impressive from day one. Spencer Paysinger has developed into a quality football player and so has Mark Herzlich. This unit is perhaps the most improved on the team and they will help the Giants keep opponents at bay.
S: Antrel Rolle was a Pro Bowler last year, and Stevie Brown was poised to continue his ballhawking ways before blowing out his knee last summer. Will Hill was sent packing and Cooper Taylor (foot) is on IR, but Quintin Demps, signed via free agency, is fast and has superior ball skills. Rookie Nat Berhe, nicknamed "The Missile" rounds out the group. The loss of Hill and Taylor really hurt this unit, but Brown appears to be at full strength and Rolle is as good as ever.
CB: The surprise signing of free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to pair up with the improving Prince Amukamara is still not being given enough credence these days. DRC and Prince, along with the addition of former "Legion of Boom" member Walter Thurmond III make the Giants' secondary one of the best in the NFL. Zack Bowman brings a physical style with him from Chicago and Trumaine McBride can run with anyone.
P: Steve Weatherford is back for another season. He's an incredible physical specimen, workout demon and not a bad punter, either. The Giants would like to see a little bit more finesse out of him, but he's one of the tops at his position regardless of what Mike Westhoff has to say.