NY Giants: 7 reasons to be excited about the future
Defensive Line Improvement
While the offensive line was one of the Giants’ weaker aspects, their defense of line was one of the strongest.
I hesitate to include too much about Leonard Williams. His re-signing is as important for Gettleman as signing a big-time receiver. And his importance to this team, specifically for this defensive line, could not be overstated.
This was arguably Williams’ best season, and he reminded everyone in New York why the Jets drafted him with the sixth overall pick in 2015. He finished with career-highs in sacks, tackles for loss, and WB hits.
What’s more, Williams’ finished seventh overall in sacks, collecting 11.5. Further, he finished third in QB hits, with 30. He, T.J. Watt, and Carl Lawrence were the only three defensive lineman with at least 30. And Williams’ 57 tackles was the highest for any player in the top 10 of sacks.
How he was snubbed for a Pro Bowl is almost as mysterious as how Evan Engram was selected. Williams was a key reason why the Giants defensive line did more than just improve, it became feared.
Dexter Lawrence and Davlin Tomlinson were big reasons for that as well. While Williams finished tied for fifth in tackles on the Giants, Lawrence finished eighth with 53 and Tomlinson finished ninth with 49. Lawrence collected four tackles and seven tackles for losses, while Tomlinson had 3.5 sacks and 9.5. tackles for loss.
Both also made it difficult for opposing quarterbacks to throw over the line of scrimmage; Lawrence had two pass deflections and Tomlinson had four.
B.J. Hill also contributed with 32 tackles, one sack, and one pass deflection.
The line was most destructive against the run. While the defense was ranked 12th overall, they allowed the 10th fewest rushing yards per game, averaging just 111.4. And stopping the run is a big prelude to stopping an offense completely.
That brings results in a number of ways, but an easy look is at how it causes turnovers. The Giants caused 22 turnovers, tied for 10th highest in the league. Unfortunately, their turnover differential was dead even, since Daniel Jones continues to struggle with turnovers.
But if not for the defenses ability to cause as many as Jones, the defense would not have taken a tremendous step forward from 2019.
Games are won in the trenches; whichever team can control the line of scrimmage usually comes out on top. And the Giants’ defensive line has proved they can win that battle.
If the Giants are able to keep this line together, not only will they become an even more destructive force thanks to experience, but they’ll also help improve the rest of the defense. It’s exciting to see how much better this line can get.