Tom Uddo, ContributorQuarterback pressure has been a staple of the New York Giants for decades. A team that has been known for its gritty defense by getting in the face of their opponent, has been anything but that over the past three weeks, a span in which Big Blue has lost three straight games to start the season.
Three games, three losses and just three sacks on the season; an alarming statistic that has the Giants tied for last in the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers (another 0-3 team).
Coming into this week against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, the Giants are going to have to put pressure on Chiefs QB Alex Smith if they have any hope of forcing a mistake, something Smith has yet to do this season. Through three games, Smith, who was acquired from the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, has thrown for 669 yards without an interception.
While defensive coordinator Perry Fewell believes that the play of Big Blue’s linebacker squad hasn’t been terrible, the numbers speak for themselves.
“We’ve had some good moments and we’ve had some not good moments. That’s the ebb and flow of the game,” said Fewell. “Would I say it’s outstanding? No. Would I say it’s poor? No. We’ve just been in the middle of the road and we can play better. We’re going to try to play better. We’re working to play better.”
The Giants have yet to see results from veterans on the line including DE Justin Tuck who has just half a sack, while LB Mathias Kiwanuka has only registered one sack.
Another key to the struggles of the Giants defense has been the ineffectiveness of DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who is returning from offseason back surgery and is still not 100 percent. Fewell however, recognizes that JPP is getting healthier as the weeks move on.
“You can see his [Pierre-Paul] conditioning level get better and better. He’s taking more reps in practice each day and so he’s starting to get into his groove a little bit,” said Fewell. “So I’ve seen him improve each day and just listening and hearing defenses called and executing the defensive calls without having to think so much in these last three weeks. He’s getting more comfortable as a football player again.”
It doesn’t end there though, as Fewell understands that the entire core of the defense must step up their game up if they have any desire to turn the season around.
I look at it as a whole. I don’t look at it just as Jason. I think we can do some things secondary-wise to help our pass rush. I think we can do some things linebacker-wise to help our pass rush,” said Fewell. “I think we can do some things down-and-distance-wise, to help our pass rush, being more successful in first and second down. I look at it as a whole. The whole group is really involved in that and it’s not just one person or two people, or three people.”
The defense will have a tough test this week as they go up against a Chiefs team that has a number of options on the field when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard, and more importantly, RB Jamaal Charles is sure to be a difference maker.
“He [Smith] has a good, strong run game. Jamaal Charles is really doing a great job in that respect,” said Fewell. “Jamaal Charles is involved in the pass game, too, and so he is able to spread the ball around and not feel pressured.”
“We normally complement each other and when we start complementing each other, the offense, defense and special teams, then we’ll play better football,” said Fewell. After the 38-0 rout by the Carolina Panthers last week, the Giants and their defense better generate some sort of chemistry in hopes that their offense can complete the 1-2 punch that is needed to leave Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City with their first win of the season.