The Giants lead the league in takeaways with 30 which is 2.5 takeaways per game. That figures to reach an astounding number of 40 by season end which equals Green Bays 2009 total led by the defensive player of the year Charles Woodson. Yes, that is the same Charles Woodson that beat out Peyton Manning for the Heisman back in 1997. Of course having diluted the prestige of the honor by awarding Danny Wuerffel the Heisman the year before mitigated the sting of Peyton not winning. Frankly, Woodson was pretty amazing that year assuming duties at cornerback, receiver and special team returner.
But I digress… Having already secured 30 turnovers, forcing 29 fumbles (recovering 17) the Giants defense is a weapon on to itself. As explosive as the offense has been, the difference maker is the defense. One dare not look away when the G-Men are on defense for fear of missing another highlight of Jason Pierre Paul or Osi or Jason Tuck stripping an opponent or forcing an interception. Although there are still holes on defense and mental lapses creating big plays, I find myself rapt with attention when the other team has the ball.
Perry Fewell has his charges hungry for the ball. Equally interesting is that rarely this year have the Giants’ appetite for the ball precluded good, crisp tackling as we sometimes see when teams get a little greedy. The techniques they employ to force fumbles is very reminiscent of Lawrence Taylor surging past left tackle, swiping at the ball while knocking the snot out of the quarterback. Taylor, if not actually having invented the move, certainly perfected it. Fewell’s film screenings must include ample footage of the great LT performing his Meadowlands magic act of first they have the ball then they don’t.
Some suggest that the Taoist belief of Yin and Yang define the forces of the universe and this theory holds up when examining the Giants. Their Yang is illustrated in the league-leading 30 takeaways. Their Yin humbles them as shown by their 31 giveaways. The minus one net regarding turnovers helps explain why despite the obscene number of interceptions and fumbles the Giants can still boast an 8-4 record. Just think what the Giants’ current standing would be if they protected the ball more like the 1990 team when over the entire season they only committed 14 giveaways.
To me a most encouraging aspect to the last game was how the Giants protected the ball. Although they fumbled once, there were no turnovers versus 4 takeaways. As these last 4 games are played out loss prevention must now be the mantra by which the Giants conduct their business. The competition is simply too good and the stakes too high to be losing possessions. The margin for error has diminished exponentially and as such, the Giants must protect the football. The Giants are good enough to run the table and will do so if they protect the ball.