It doesn’t matter how you evaluate it, the New York Giants defense is performing much better than it did last season. You can see it on the field. But what do the stats say?
In 2014 the Giants defense was pitiful in most statistical categories except for quarterback sacks. This season the Giants are still giving up a lot of yards but their 26th ranking in yards allowed per game is misleading. The Giants defense averages 386 yards allowed per game.
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The Giants gave up only 313 yards last week to the Buffalo Bills who were trying to comeback most of the game. They gave up 393 yards to the Washington Redskins, but most of that was because the Redskins were playing catch up the entire game. The Falcons got just over 400 yards in their win over Big Blue. The Cowboys torched the Giants defense with 436 yards.
In this day of NFL football, it is kind of hard to get bent out shape about giving up yards. What really matters are points allowed and takeaways. The Giants have allowed 82 points which ranks 13th in the NFL. The Giants opponents average 20.5 points per game which isn’t a horrible number. The defense is giving the Giants a chance to win. If you keep the score in the low 20’s the offense should often deliver a win.
The Giants are also doing a fantastic job in the turnover battle. The team is +7 in the turnover ratio. The Giants defense has six interceptions this season and they are tied for the 5th most in the NFL. The Giants have also have forced five fumbles, two of which they have recovered and one which Prince Amukamara took to the end zone.
The Giants are doing a phenomenal job in the two statistical categories that matter the most. Defenses are ranked by yards through the eyes of a statistician but a realistic view favors points and takeaways a bit more. Every NFL offense is capable of putting on a show. This is evidenced by the terrible 49ers lighting up the Vikings in week one. To replace a word in one of my favorite sayings, “yards happen.”
But if we wanted to focus on yards, the Giants run defense would be a great place to look. After all the Giants have the number one rush defense in the NFL, giving up only 69.8 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. That is a phenomenal turnaround by the Giants defense. I credit the aggressive nature of Steve Spagnuolo, a defensive coordinator who understands front seven play better than most people ever could.
The one area the Giants really need to improve is rushing the passer. The Giants have only 5 sacks this season, clearly they are missing the presence of Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants pass rush hasn’t been good enough. The secondary has played very well. When they give up completions they don’t give up many big plays (unless their name is Julio Jones and in that case they have no answer).
If the Giants can improve their pass rush they can reduce the pressure put on the secondary, limit the yards of their opponents and kill drives with quarterback sacks. Overall the Giants defense is performing admirably this season. I had low expectations, they didn’t need to dominate. In the end just giving the team a chance to win is all you can ask from the Giants defense. They certainly are doing that.