John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Giants GM Jerry Reese had an extensive to-do list this offseason and one of the areas he focused on was the defensive backfield. In free agency, he signed veteran CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman and up-and-coming slot corner Walter Thurmond III fresh off the Super Bowl-winning roster of the Seattle Seahawks.
Resse also re-signed CB Trumaine McBride and exercised Prince Amukamara’s fifth-year option. In the draft, he added S Nat Berhe, CB Bennett Jackson and several others, most notably Michigan’s Thomas Gordon, after the draft.
With Will Hill (3rd failed drug test) in limbo, the Giants have the ballhawking Stevie Brown (torn ACL) returning to pair with Pro Bowler Antrel Rolle at safety, so it appears the Giants have the back end of their defense somewhat fortified.
But what about the front seven? Reese has still not seen the need to select a LB high in the draft, opting to use free agents and late-round draft picks as a stop-gap solution.
The re-signing of MLB Jon Beason was a big step in keeping the Giants’ vaunted run defense up to snuff. So was the adroit pickup of Jameel McClain, who was released by Baltimore in the advent of the free agency period. But the rest of the linebacker crew has yet to fully establish themselves. Spencer Paysinger has improved with each season and is currently penciled in as the team’s weak side LB.
Jacquian Williams has had issues staying healthy and Mark Herzlich is better used as a special teams player. Reese drafted USC’s Devon Kennard in the fifth round of this year’s draft, but he also looks like a twiner, a jack of all trades and master of none.
The defensive line will be without Linval Joseph, who signed with Minnesota in March. Last season, Joseph, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson led the defensive interior to a stellar season, throttling some of the league’s top rushing attacks. This year, Jenkins and Patterson will be joined by Jon Hankins, Markus Kuhn and rookies Jay Bromley and Kelcy Quarles.
DE is the bigger question mark this season. Jason Pierre-Paul claims to be back to health, but can he return to his All-Pro form? Mathias Kiwanuka had six sacks in 2013, but he has been inconsistent for the most part. Damontre Moore’s rookie year was marred by a severe shoulder injury. Robert Ayers was signed after Justin Tuck left for Oakland via free agency.
Reese is counting on a lot of comebacks and breakthroughs to provide big plays this season. The Giants should be able to stop the run, but can they get to the passer? Can they get back to the positive turnover mentality of 2012, when they had 35 takeaways?
Loudmouths Chris Carlin and Adam Schein discuss whether the Giants will have enough playmakers on defense this season >>