New York Giants: Previewing 2015 Defense


Steve Spagnuolo is back with Big Blue after 6 years away from the team, and the last we left off with Spags, the Giants were one of the league’s most imposing defenses. Unfortunately, last season that was not the story as the Giants were one of the league’s worst on the defensive side of the football.

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In his only two years as the team’s defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo’s defense ranked in the top 10 in yards per game allowed, and led the league in sacks in 2007. Now with him back are we expecting too much with this current Giants defensive unit? Let’s break it down.

First, I want to start with the Giants ailing secondary dilemma. Currently, the only two safeties they have on their roster are 3rd-year player Cooper Taylor and 2nd-year player Nat Berhe. It seems a lot worse than it really is.

Lets remember the Giants won a world championship with Gibril Wilson, James Butler, and Michael Johnson roaming the secondary. None of those guys you would say brought anything special to the table. With Spagnuolo, the Giants have almost looked at the secondary as an after thought.

Remember R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison? Yeah, those were the center pieces of the Giants secondary to go along with the young and unproven Corey Webster and Aaron Ross in their 2007 championship run. That season proved that secondary play is more about chemistry, communication and of course, a good pass rush.

Sep 25, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) runs the ball after an interception against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Even though they lack a true free safety, the Giants should be more than fine on the outside covering receivers. Before getting hurt last season, Prince Amukamara was having his best season as a pro. Tag him along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and I think this secondary can be a strength for this defense going forward.

Now, on to the pass rush. The Giants calling card in Spagnuolo’s previous tenure with the team was by far the pass rush. Names like Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck as a unit completely took over football games, and were probably the biggest reason for the team’s success.

This current unit has some real pieces to replicate something close to what those Giants of the past achieved.

Jason Pierre-Paul is still one of the best defensive lineman in football. I can’t stand when people criticize his game and compare it to his career year in 2011. Injuries to his back and shoulder have crippled his performance a bit, but even with those lingering issues he still racked up 12.5 sacks and 77 tackles last season. He’s still elite, folks.

Add Pierre-Paul’s skill set with that of youngster Damontre Moore and this Giants pass rush could finally come back to form. I mean the reason Moore was drafted was to add a pass rushing presence to this defense. For some reason his snap count hasn’t been very high so far in his young career, but that should change in 2015.

Sep 29, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back runs the ball as New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) attempts the tackle during the first half of the game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With those two expected to be the Giants two main pass rushing options, players like Robert Ayers, Kerry Wynn and George Selvie expect to add some depth to the defensive front as well. The biggest question surrounding this defense is their ability to stop the run which was absolutely pitiful last season.

Johnathan Hankins will once again be an important piece to this defensive front not only in his ability to get to the quarterback, but to help solidify their run defense. The addition of former Jets Defensive Tackle, Kendrick Ellis should surely help alongside Hankins to solidify the Giants run defense. Not to mention Cullen Jenkins who took a pay cut to return to the team after an injury-plagued 2014 season.

As far as their linebacking corps is concerned, I think this could be a really strong unit on this defense. If Jon Beason can replicate anything of what he showed in 2013 and 2nd-year player Devon Kennard can grow off his rookie year this group could be really good.

I especially like the depth that J.T. ThomasJameel McClain, and Jonathan Casillas bring, as they’ll provide a strong presence in the run-stopping aspect of the game as well as their special teams unit.

So what should we expect in 2015? I wouldn’t get too carried away as far as putting them in the same conversation as the their 2007/2008 defenses, but this group does have some potential.

Like always though, we’ll just have to see how the season plays out. Injuries, under-performers, and over-performers seem to occur every season and I don’t think 2015 will be any different.

Next: 2015 NFL Mock Draft: New York Giants Edition

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