Many forget that the NY Giants defensive line boast two of the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL – Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.
In an article I wrote over the summer featuring Pro Football Focus’ productivity ranking – I made my case as to why the Giants needed to resign Kiwanuka to a one year deal to see how his neck injury responded. So after getting his first sack last game as a defensive end back at DE in limited snaps, and without Justin Tuck who is battling his own neck/groin injuries this year, the Giants defense needs Kiwi now more than ever to return to anchoring the defensive line for the good of the team.
The great Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until you get hit in the mouth.” And although that quote was used last week on this very same blog I think the quote does equally well in this example. Justin Tuck was supposed to captain the Giants D-Line and Mathias Kiwanuka was supposed to anchor the LB unit of the Giants defense — neither has worked out exactly as planned. Tuck has been out with a neck/groin injury and doesn’t look like he’s seeing the field any time soon to avoid setbacks. Kiwanuka on the other hand has seen limited packages at LB and even fewer rotating through to the defensive line where he’s arguably best.
So what are the Giants going to do without their top 2 pass rushers consistently in play? Time to adjust I guess.
Kiwanuka is a special player, as versatile a LB/DE as you’ll see in the league. But as that article states, he has a gift for getting after the QB. The Giants need to find a way to utilize Kiwanuka to get after the passer and not dropping him in coverage — that’s not where he shines. The holes in the Giants defense are largely there because zone requires effortless communication and execution across the defense. The Giants don’t have it right now. And in general, Cover 2 can consistently be broken with those all-too familiar 20 yard posts down the seam of the defense off a 5 step drop.
The ONLY way to stop that play is PRESSURE. Sacking the QB, getting in his face, hitting him constantly, knocking him down – getting more consistent pressure is the first thing the Giants need to accomplish to get better as a defense. That was true in 2009, it’s true right now. There are weaknesses and the best bandaid is always going to be more pressure on the QB.
Nothing can be done about the loss of Tuck right now. So sithout Justin Tuck yet again, and instead of Tollefson inside of Osi and JPP — I’d like to see Kiwanuka more on the line. JPP has been good, Osi has been very good the past 2 games. Kiwanuka may be the remedy to the defense though. The Giants have an opportunity to play some young and hungry linebackers in Kiwi’s place from their endless stable of LBs they have on their roster… DE’s and DT’s are few and far between for the GMEN.
Time to look back at what’s always worked for the Giants and their defensive scheme and it’s consistent pressure from the front 4. Kiwanuka is going to be better utilized in that group… he’s an elite pass rusher after all — and the Giants need to realize their best weapon to get after the QB is being squandered elsewhere and make the adjustment before it’s too late.