Pat Kirwan is on a role, easily becoming NY Giants fans’ favorite NFL analyst:
We can talk all day every day about how talented the Giants roster is, how skewed the perception of the team is — but Pat Kirwan of NFL.com is trying to buck that trend this offseason. He’s basically setting the record straight, that Eli Manning is a top QB in the league, Osi Umenyiora isn’t getting the respect he deserves, and how the Giants offensive line even with all the injuries is STILL one of the most productive units in the league.
Who forced a league-leading 10 fumbles last season? Umenyiora achieved the feat to go along with his 11.5 sacks. In fact, he has 19 forced fumbles and 31.5 sacks over the past three years. Compare those numbers to John Abraham with 35 sacks and seven forced fumbles or Dwight Freeney’s 34 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.
The next closest player to forcing fumbles over the past three seasons is James Harrison with 18. Sacks are great, but getting the ball jarred loose and creating a potential turnover is more important to most coaches. Not many can hang with Umenyiora in that regard.
On the O-Line:
Three years ago, the unit was talked about as one of the best in the NFL. However, the perception changed as the line began to be described as an aging group that needed to be rebuilt. Even though the line dealt with a number of injuries, it still graded out as one of the best, if not the best, in an overall view.
The Giants finished sixth in rushing yardage, tied for sixth in yards per attempt and sixth in rushing touchdowns. Things were even better when it came to pass protection. They were tied for the fewest sacks allowed with 16 and third in hits allowed on the quarterback with 52. Eli Manning was sacked an average of once a game and hit three times.
Osi and Tuck made second team honors this year from the AP, but they’ve been left off all kinds of lists since then. Say what you will about Justin Tuck — he’s clearly perceived as the token defensive lineman on the Giants that can do it all. And he does — but so does Osi! Dude’s a beast. I’ll NEVER forget when I went to the Giants @ Redskins finale last year, the cameras stopped rolling after time expired on one of the quarters, and what wasn’t caught on TV was truly amazing. Osi and a Skins defensive lineman were jawing back and forth as they walked the distance down to the other end of the field, they almost had to be separated actually. But on the very next snap Osi made a nice move, and came away with a classic Umenyiora strip sack. Not only did he talk the talk, walk the walk, he crushed and buried the conversation. One of the many reasons Osi Umenyiora should have made the NFL’s Top 100… guess he’ll have all the more motivation next season won’t he?
With a dozen different configurations last year, the offensive line held their own. Great coaching, great execution from veterans and rookies alike – the Giants’ line allowed the least sacks in the NFL, helped pave the Giants backfield to 2000+ yards, and gave Eli Manning some career numbers for the second straight year in the passing game.
Time to give some respect y’all….