The New York Giants are supposed to be a premiere team in the NFL. With four Super Bowl championships and a history that makes most teams jealous, they certainly are not supposed to be 3-8 after Thanksgiving. There are many culprits to the GMEN’s struggles; in all honesty they are a bad football team. The Giants struggles start up front on both sides of the football. Today we will stay in my football wheelhouse and discuss the defensive front seven.
The Giants are struggling to stop the run, an absolute killer problem in the NFC East against the likes of DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy and Alfred Morris six times a season. The Giants neglectful drafting at the linebacker position is indicative of their problems.
It is not all that hard to find the Giants MO when it comes to defense. General Manager, Jerry Reese, loves to draft pass rushers. Great pass rush from a dominant defensive line was what conquered Tom Brady’s New England Patriots twice for Super Bowl championships. The problem is that when Jason Pierre-Paul is your only elite pass rusher on the roster, this model of defense does not work.
The Giants have a weak linebacking group and its evident with the eye test and through examination of statistics. The Giants’ defense gives up an unacceptable 4.9 yards per carry and has given up 10 rushes over 20 yards. The linebackers are simply not getting the job done.
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In the 2010 NFL draft the Giants drafted a superstar in Pierre-Paul with the 15th selection. In the second round the Giants had an opportunity to draft a star linebacker, instead they selected another defensive lineman, Linvall Joseph.
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Darryl Washington with the next pick. Washington became a pro bowler immediately upon arrival. The Dallas Cowboys selected Sean Lee in the same round. In the 3rd round Navarro Bowman became a steal for the San Francisco 49ers. Brandon Spikes was also selected by the Patriots.
In 2012 NFL Draft the Giants continued this trend in the coming years. The most notable linebacker that could have been a Giant is Bobby Wagner. Wagner went to the Seattle Seahawks to become a critical part of a Super Bowl winning defense. Courtney Upshaw saw Super Bowl glory with the Ravens in 2012, forcing a critical fumble. Upshaw is more of a 3-4 outside linebacker, but would have adapted.
In 2013 the Giants could have easily had Alec Ogletree in the first round. Instead they selected Justin Pugh, a tackle that has not lived up to first round standards. In the second round Kiko Alonso was selected before the Giants made their pick. He easily was worth a first round selection. 2013 was a great linebacker draft, with Manti Teo and Kevin Minter as the other notable linebackers in the draft class.
The Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. While Beckham is clearly a star to have on offense, the Giants had much bigger needs. C.J. Mosley was available as would have made a huge impact on the Giants. He became a starter with the Ravens strong defense and has drawn comparisons to a young Ray Lewis.
It is impossible to fault New York for selecting a star receiver though. It is however a continuation of a trend that has crippled the Giants defense. When star linebackers are available in the draft, Jerry Reese and company look the other way and now they see how they are hurting at the position as opposing teams have exploited this glaring weakness.
The Giants have the 31st best defense in the league. Year after year, they watch linebackers they pass on in the draft become stars on good defenses. They are in this predicament because in the first 3 rounds of the annual draft, they forget to draft their quarterback of the defense.
If they Giants want to succeed in the future, they must change their old habits and draft a dominating linebacker in the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft.