Aug 24, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) just gets ball away before New York Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams (57) wraps him up during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

New York Giants 2014: Pass Rush & the Blitz

The Giants pass rush strategy has been an issue of contempt long before the arrival of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell in 2010 (yes, even during the wildly successful years). Big Blue Nation is tired of suffering in silence. If you listen closely… you can almost hear the desperate cries for deployment of more modern blitz packages from that fan in Hoboken, NJ. Or that die- hard in Poughkeepsie begging Fewell to stop sending Spencer Paysinger on a delayed blitz up the gut. And rightfully so. With a specific focus on 2013, the Giants strategy for getting after the quarterback failed miserably. The following statistical measures assembled by Nathan Jahnke from Pro Football Focus will serve to illustrate that point:

Team Blitz Percentage

The Giants sent some version of the blitz on 209 of 661 QB drop-backs, or 31.62% of the time. That percentage was the 14th highest rate in the NFL for 2013.

Blitzing Pass Rush Productivity (PRP)

The blitz paid dividends in the form of 14 sacks, 25 hits and 44 hurries on 209 QB drop-backs. Pass Rushing Productivity rating of 31.5% ranked 26th of 32 teams.

PRP Without the Blitz

When utilizing a conventional rush, the Giants totaled 18 sacks, 36 hits and 75 hurries on 452 QB drop-backs. Once again, their PRP of 22.4% ranked 26th overall.

So what do all these random numbers and percentages reveal to us? Contrary to popular belief, the Giants stand in the top half of the league in frequency of blitz. However, what these numbers fail to point out is the overtly conservative nature of most of Fewell’s schemes. As a result, the Giants got nominal mileage when sending extra bodies. The deeper root of the problem, of course, is the inability of the front four to create a consistent advantage along the line of scrimmage. Justin Tuck was the only Giants defensive end to finish inside the top-50 in 4-3 DE Pass Rushing Productivity (17th), and he’s now suiting up for Oakland:

Justin Tuck12446810.4
Jason Pierre-Paul623317.1
Damontre Moore7296.8
Mathias Kiwanuka1422436.7

In speaking with the media last week, Perry Fewell proclaimed that the team’s cornerback overhaul this offseason will allow for more “tricks“. Disguise is definitely an area the Giants have fell short:

“I definitely think those tools allow us to do a lot more different things than we’ve done in the past,” Fewell said. “We’ll definitely find out in the fall camp. I was very excited about what we were able to install [this spring], some of the things we were able to do, the information they retained and executed at a high level. So, yeah, it will be fun. It will be a lot of fun.”

Hearing the words from the horse’s mouth is all well and good, but Fewell has been known to tighten the strings on gameday, and even more so in the crunch time moments. The 2014 Giants will possess the backline talent to overcome scheme failures on any given play. An unwillingness to leverage that asset with more aggression would be the real failure. It’s time to maximize your weapons, Perry.


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Tags: New York Giants Perry Fewell Pro Football Focus

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