In a nutshell: MLB Jon Beason will likely opt to have surgery on his ailing foot and miss the rest of the season. The front seven has to step up and do a better job now that the secondary has taken on some losses due to injuries.
Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) blocks New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) in the game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat New York 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
After a 7-9 campaign last year, many felt the Giants needed a change at defensive coordinator in the offseason. It didn't happen and Perry Fewell and his flawed philosophy was allowed to continue forward.
The results have been much the same, even with all of the changes they made personnel-wise. Injuries have certainly restricted whatever plans Fewell and his coaches were going to try to implement.
The defensive line played the run well last season, but have been inconsistent thus far. Their level of play has dropped, even with JPP and Jon Hankins playing well in run situations. Back-to-back games vs last year's rushing champ, LeSean McCoy, and this year's juggernaut, DeMarco Murray, did not help and have skewed the stats in the wrong direction.
Fewell's system is built around a strong pass rush. So, why aren't they getting their best pass rushers on the field more often? JPP needs to be rotated around so that teams can't gameplan for him. By shuffling him around, they can also get him into mismatches in his favor. It's not written in stone that he has to play DE every down.
The Giants have two pass rushers that they have to give more playing time to: Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers, Jr. Both players have more upside than Mathias Kiwanuka and the Giants would serve themselves well if they allowed them to show it. Unfortunately, teams know they can make yards on the ground vs. the Giants and the shortage of passing situations has kept them both on the bench.
DL coach Robert Nunn: "The last two games we have not created a lot of pass rush situations, so his numbers have been limited. Damontré needs to continue to improve and continue to stay focused on what we are doing on first and second down. He can do it. He is a lighter body, not ideal, but he can play it. He has to stay focused and continue to improve in that area and he will get more at-bats. He is going to get more opportunities on third down and so he just has to keep coming along and improve on first and second down. If he does that, then he is going to get those opportunities in pass rush situations."
With Beason gone, the Giants will turn to rookie Devon Kennard for a spark. Whether they will play him or Jameel McClain in the middle is still unknown. Kennard has more speed, but McClain has the experience. Jacquian Williams will stay put. He's the team's top tackler thus far this season. He's finally healthy and has shown his worth here in the first half of the season.
Kennard is the player that caught the eye of everyone during the preseason. He has exceptional football acumen for a rookie along with the strength and speed needed to implement and execute at a high level. Finally, the Giants may have a LB they can blitz with some success.
LB coach Jim Herrmann: "I think the biggest things that he (Kennard) has to learn are the pace of the game, know who he’s playing against, the type of runner and the type of passing game. Those are the things that I think more experience will help him and make him more aware. Some of the older guys, they’ve been in the game, they’ve been in those situations. Now it’s his turn. They’ll help him grow because they’re all good guys, they all want to see him succeed."
The secondary, considered the strength of the defense coming out of training camp, has taken some hits injury-wise. Since the season began, they've lost CBs Walter Thurmond III and Trumaine McBride to season-ending injuries and prized free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been slowed by ankle and hamstring ailments.
Against Philadelphia and Dallas, the secondary struggled. Prince Amukamara is much improved but he needs DRC on the other side to have any impact at all. With the depth no longer there, it's expected that Fewell will reinsert S Stevie Brown back into the lineup in nickel packages over Jayron Hosley and others.
CB coach Pete Giunta: "He (Prince) has been very good, he has been tight in coverage. It allows him, when a guy does catch the football, it’s tackled. There is not a lot of space between he and the receiver, which makes it easier and he will make the tackle. He has been very, very, good tackling this year and even in the run support stuff he has done a great job coming up, setting the edge when we needed him to, fill in the run gaps, he has done great job tackling."
S Antrel Rolle is the final year of the record-setting deal he signed in 2010. He has played fairly well again thus far this season, but he needs some help back there. Quintin Demps has filled in for Brown, who was benched after a poor showing early on this season.
Safeties coach David Merritt: "He is doing well. Quintin is doing everything we ask of him to do. He is controlling the coverages. He is very loud and boisterous in his communication with the other guys on the field, so he is doing well....Coming off of the knee injury, Stevie is in a situation right now where he had a couple of things that didn’t go his way early in the season and so I think he is back. I don’t see any problem with the knee. He just needs to continue to gain confidence."
The Giants season is at a crossroads. They can succumb to this killer schedule the next few weeks, or they can stand and fight. JPP and Rolle want to be Giants in 2015, so they will likely lead the charge. But it will be the young players such as Hankins, Moore and Kennard that will shape this defense going forward.