from Jared Kruger / SNYGiants contributor
What is going on with Jason Pierre-Paul? Last season, Pierre Paul had 16.5 sacks and 86 combined tackles en route to being named to the NFL’s ALL Pro team. This year through fourteen games, he has only 6.5 sacks, the last one coming Nov 4 against Pittsburgh. That’s five games without a sack, for those who are counting.
The struggling Giants have become quite dependent on their defensive superstar and he is not producing as expected. They have more issues right now than JPP’s sack drought, but if you’re looking for a “what’s wrong with the Giants” list, that is certainly near the top.
Sacks aren’t everything. We understand that, but JPP’s production is way down all around. He had 86 combined tackles last season, 65 of those were solo. This year, he has 57 combined and only 37 solo.
So, What’s his problem?
It’s actually quite simple, and we have noted it on this site many times. He is still very raw. Last season teams were single-teaming him. This year, opponents are doing better job game-planning for him. First off, a half-decent OT can get him to engage very easily. JPP is simply not shedding blocks. Instead of playing more in the style of Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and blowing past blockers, he’s trying to bull his way past them. It ain’t workin.
With TEs chipping him, and RBs positioned in the backfield to further impede his path to the QB, JPP has been flummoxed all year. Adding to the frustration is the alarming decrease in production from the Giants’ other DEs – Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Both have suddenly become very average (less than average if you ask around). Neither has been able to take the pressure off their younger teammate.
QBs are also releasing the ball more quickly against the Giants. Shorter drops and shorter pass plays negate the rush as well. In addition, the Giants’ secondary isn’t providing much help. They rarely lock down all receiving options to cause a coverage sack. They usually give receivers 7-8 yards at the line of scrimmage, allowing the QB to make shorter, more accurate passes in 1-2 seconds, beating whatever rush the Giants might be able to muster to the punch.
How can they combat, or rectify this?
Not easily, but they can try a few things. Keep in mind, JPP is still raw and learning and his football acumen is not high enough to overcome this excessive attention he’s been getting.
Instead of lining JPP up in the same spot down after down, they should move him around more. That will confuse OCs in their quest to double team him. It will also cause QBs and OLs to audible plays and blocking assignments. We find the NASCAR usually works. Not sure why they don’t use it more.
Why the Giants are still fooling around with this “Mathias Kiwanuka is a LB” project is also a mystery. They need to get away from that. Kiwi belongs on the line in a rotation along with the others. In fact, it was us that said they should actually flip him with JPP. That can’t be done now, but in the future. JPP has never played OLB, we know that. But he also didn’t play a lot of DE before he got here, either. Not saying he should be converted into a LB, but how about making him the “joker’?
The there’s the case where JPP just might have gotten complacent. Watching these games you just do not see the fire in JPP’s body language. Pierre-Paul is a very rowdy, out-going guy and lets the QB know when he hits him. He has not been there chasing down the running back that cuts by him and we have not seen the JPP that chases down players that we saw multiple times last year.
The New York Football Giants are not playing their football as a whole but JPP, who the the Giants need to pull them from the wreckage, has become more of the problem and less of the solution. His comments are full of cliches, which some could misconstrue as veiled excuses….
The past week was an embarrassment and Pierre-Paul’s response on the fear of not making the playoffs was: “We are not worried about nothing. We are just trying to win two more games. That’s it. There’s no destiny. We are just trying to win two more games and that’s it. We’ll see what happens then.”
On the gameplan against the Falcons, “We had a great week of practice. They wanted it more and we wanted it less. I guess, they came out and beat us fair and square. They put a pounding and (butt) whipping on us. It is what it is. They won the game and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Those are not the words you would expect of an All-Pro defensive end who is feared by the rest of the league, does it now? His confidence appears to be shot. The Giants just might have to help him, so he can help them.