The Giants' defense has turned over a new leaf this season, playing stout against the run and holding their own in the trenches. A big reason for the improvement is the addition of free agent DT Damon Harrison, who came as advertised from the Jets as a big-bodied space-eater.
He is currently third on the club in tackles (19), behind LB Jonathan Casillas (26) and S Landon Collins (20).
After three games, the Giants are fifth in the league against the run, allowing just 77.3 yards per game. The longest gain on the ground against them has been 13 yards. Last season, the Giants surrendered 121.4 YPG.
Harrison was asked Tuesday why he thinks the Giants are more successful against the run this season.
"Well, you have got two very good defensive ends who set a firm edge and that is the number one thing in the game of football today, especially the way that these running backs are running straight towards the sidelines, trying to get the edge," the man they call Snacks said. "So to have two very good defensive ends that can set the edge as well as JPP and Olivier do, it helps."
"Also, having Johnathan Hankins at the three technique," Harrison continued. "If you talk to a lot of football coaches and football minds, they will tell you that the three technique is probably the most important position in terms of stopping the run along the defensive line, because the three technique can set the edge by himself. That is what Johnathan Hankins is doing a very good job of and as well as all the linebackers. Kelvin Sheppard, Keenan Robinson, JC. Those guys have been doing an excellent job of scraping over the top and running up and filling up holes."
Hankins was another piece who was missing last season. He tore a pec halfway through the year and was done for the final eight games. Jason Pierre-Paul missed the first half of the season and Olivier Vernon was with the Dolphins.
Last Sunday against the Redskins, the Giants defense got a little sloppy and permitted the Skins to move the ball more freely than than their opponents did in their first two games.
"I would have to say tackling and finishing," Harrison said when asked what he felt the defense could have done better. "No matter what position we are put in defensively, our job is to go out there and defend the grass behind us and prevent points and we didn't do that as well as we have done in the previous weeks this past Sunday. All of the stuff that we did wrong is correctable. It is nothing that anyone should be panicking or worrying about. We just have to go back out this week, have a great week of practice and get back to the basics."
The Giants only have four sacks in the first three games this season, but Harrison is satisfied with the pressure they have been getting on the quarterback.
"I wouldn't say happy because it can always be better, but I think the guys along the interior, myself included, we did a pretty good job of pushing the pocket," he said. "Not as consistently as we wanted to, but I think we did a pretty good job."