However, through the first four games, the Giants have struggled getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and even when they do, they can’t seem to finish the play by recording a sack.
The Giants have 8.0 combined sacks in four games, averaging just 2.0 per game. This mark ties them for 17th in the NFL. Last season, the Giants were tied for third in the NFL with 48.0 sacks in 16 games, for an average of 3.0 per game.
Of course, it’s still early, but it’s troubling that the same group of players from last year isn’t performing up to standards. Osi Umenyiora has 2.0 sacks, while Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have 1.5 and 1.0 sack, respectively.
Pierre-Paul especially is starting to get concerned about his limited output.
“I can be a better player than what I’m playing now,” he said at practice Thursday at the TIMEX Performance Center. “I’m not used to playing like this. I can be a much better player, and I just get need to get hungry and get after it.”
Fans and NFL analysts alike predicted a breakout season this year from Pierre-Paul. There is still plenty of time for that, but it has to start this week against the Browns and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“I feel like I haven’t been having fun lately,” Pierre-Paul said. “It feels like I’m kind of stressed a little, but I made an oath to myself that I’m just going to go out there and have fun.
“People have high expectations of me, so it kind of brings me down a little too knowing I got to live up to that, but in the sense that like I have to have fun too. I can’t just go out there thinking I’m gonna get the job done because I’m Jason Pierre-Paul. It doesn’t work that way. You need to go out there and have practice and do what coach tells you, and that’s where it comes from. It starts off from practice, and you just get after the quarterback and stop the run.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin said he is eager to get his defensive front, mainly Pierre-Paul, back on track so that the team’s main strength can start playing like it.
“Let’s hope it’s coming,” Coughlin said. “Everybody is concerned with where he (Pierre-Paul) is, just as they are with all the ends. You’re getting formations, if you saw last week’s game, you’re getting multiple tight ends, what I call ‘a box formation’ over there. That’s all to reduce the ability of the defensive end to just rush up the field to get to the quarterback. When you see those types of formations, typically on passing downs, you’re aware of the fact that there is concern.”
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he senses Tuck and Pierre-Paul’s frustration, but he’s not too worried at this point in the season.
“Anytime that you’ve had success and you haven’t been able to build on that success early in the season, you’re going to be frustrated somewhat,” Fewell said. “When teams counter and do something to take you out of your game, you’re going to be a little frustrated, but it’s a long season…Again, we’re going into the fifth game of the season. Those things will come, I’m very confident about that.”
This may be the ideal week for the defensive front to get going against Weeden. However, Tuck is not taking the situation lightly.
“He’s (Weeden) my age,” Tuck said. “I don’t look at him as a rookie. He’s experienced in his life, but he’s still making some mistakes that we picked up on the film. Hopefully, he continues to make those mistakes this week, but the thing I’ve seen from him is that he’s gotten better every week.”
But if the Giants have a strong performance from their defensive front, don’t expect a huge improvement this week from Weeden. If Tuck, Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora get back to having fun, Weeden’s day will not be fun at all.