Months ago, Perry Fewell made some comments about the Giants Defense that I tucked away for a while, waiting for just the right moment. I believe the time has come to visit them with a fresh pair of eyes.
The Giants defense against the Redskins last week was missing a few of their starters — but compared to other defense around the league Big Blue was nearly adequate. They gave up 21 points (7 points came from Redskins Defense), they had 4 sacks, held the Redskins to 2.8 yards per carry on the ground, and the Redskins only managed a 33% conversion rate on third downs. Yes – compared to your typical NFL defense it could have been much worse.
But for the Giants, it was a devastating loss so far from the defensive identity they’ve developed over the decades that you wonder what in God’s name is missing. Well, the answers are abundantly clear. Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
Months ago when Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell made the following statements, the only player that was thought to be questionable for the season was Umenyiora. Now with Tuck sidelined with an injury, Terrell Thomas out for the year, Jon Goff out, Marvin Austin out, Bruce Johnson out, Prince Amukamara still recovering from a broken foot, and Umenyiora still uncertain as to when he’ll play his first snap… the Giants Defense has completely lost its swagger.
“They had a little swagger when they walked out on the field, and you knew that you were gonna get your [butt] knocked off by the Giants that particular gameday. I think that we have the ability to do that at times, but we’re not consistent in doing that, and we need to develop our swagger.”
Not only has the defense not been consistent all preseason, right up to last weeks game, they are snake bitten with injuries, younger and more confused than they were a month ago, and any swagger they had left over from 2010 it’s certainly gone now. With the Giants 0-1 after losing to a team they’ve beaten handily 6 consecutive times before last weeks game, it’s now time for a resurgence in swagger if there ever was one.
It’s week 2 and Steve Spagnuolo’s overhauled St. Louis Rams are coming to town looking to avoid an 0-2 start by any means necessary. The Giants will also be looking to head into week 3 without a goose egg in the win column. So what will it take? Execution on offense of course, but to Fewell’s point the Giants will need to get that swagger back. Although odds are still out, they might just get it with the return of Tuck and Umenyiora together Monday night.
Both players were doing individual drills during practice late this week, Tuck was nearly full speed but was still somewhat limited due to his neck injury, thought to be muscular in nature. If Tuck gets back to 100% before Monday night, he’ll be good to go. But that will not be all it takes to get that full swagger going…. Umenyiora is also needed.
If Osi happens to play – for the first time since early 2010 the Giants defense will be at 100% full strength with all their defensive pass rushers in full force. I’m including Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley in that equation because the front 7 of the Giants defense in 2010 was called the ‘Quarterback Killers’ for a reason. They need to remember that when they take the field, even if Fewell should remind them just before kickoff what he wants to see from them.
Yes, the Giants Defense had that swagger on full display nearly a year ago when they were at full strength…. and it was quite a sight to see. They’re overdue for a resurgence now this Monday night against the Rams, here’s hoping they remember how to take the field like they did early last year – with that deadly swagger.