The NY Giants’ late-season success has been powered by the defense and standout performances from Leonard Williams and Jabrill Peppers
NY Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will be a hot name for head coaching vacancies next month, but his suddenly dominant unit that just might power a playoff run has been fueled by two standout performers.
While Unheralded and developing players like undrafted rookie Niko Lalos, fifth-round pick Darnay Holmes, late-round rookies Tae Crowder and Cam Brown have all been pleasant surprises and flashed plenty of potential, the Giants’ defense that has fueled four consecutive victories has been led by Jabrill Peppers and Leonard Williams’ consistent dominance.
In the midst of this late-season surge, the Giants have forged an identity as they have stacked up victories.
“It’s just tough, hard-nosed, physical, disciplined football,” Peppers said. “We know they get paid too, and they’re going to make plays, but just keep playing hard-nosed, physical, be great tacklers, and good things are going to happen for you.”
Sunday, it was Williams season-high 2.5 sacks while applying near relentless pressure on Seattle Seahawks quarterback and MVP candidate Russell Wilson, that led the way for an unexpected 17-12 upset win.
“That guy is a man,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said of Williams. “That dude is a man.”
Williams has also been the man for the Giants’ defense this season, with a team-high 8.5 sacks and continuing to make the case it would be as big a mistake to let him walk at season’s end as it was to trade a third and fifth-round pick for him last season.
“He gives us a lot of versatility on the defense because of his skill-set,” Judge explained. “Obviously, there’s statistics on the field that you see, but what you don’t see is what kind of guy he is to coach, what kind of teammate he is away from it. This guy helps everyone raise their level of preparation and play.”
One of those players who has seen his game elevate because of Williams’ disruption up front is Peppers.
The Giants’ safety, frequently weaponized up near the line of scrimmage as a blitzer, produced a sack and finished third on the team with five tackles and added two pass breakups.
Almost more importantly, it is Peppers’ versatility that allows Graham to get ultra creative with blitz packages and is an asset against the run.
Sunday, the Giants’ allowed just 327 yards of total offense, kept Wilson to 45 yards rushing, forced a pair of turnovers, and over the last four weeks are allowing just 14.2 offensive points per game.
“It’s a standard,” Peppers said. “Coaches expect big things, and we as players have a standard we expect people to play by. We don’t care who’s out there. That’s the standard. We just keep playing our brand of football, we know we have a job to do when we go out there and that is to execute.”
That brand of football is going to be tough to beat.
Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.