Many New York Giants fans have been itching to get back to the textbook New York football style. The style that won them two Super Bowls in eight years. Ground and pound. Hard nose, hit you in the face, mean football. All it entails is running the ball, stopping the run, and putting pressure on the quarterback with an eloquent Giants style pass rush.
The Giants have had two of those put into place with Saquon Barkley and an abundance of talented interior d-linemen. However, the team’s lack of investment in building on the Giants pass rush position this offseason has aggravated many fans.
The edge rusher position was thought to be the Giants’ second-biggest priority for the offseason behind adding an offensive tackle, yet they didn’t sign any premium pass rushers in free agency and neglected the position until the later rounds of the draft. It seems like the G-Men will rank as one of the league’s worst pass-rushing teams because there haven’t been many changes made. Although there is some hope that a new system combined with young talent that now has experience under their belts can bolster this team to the top half of the league.
NEW COACH, NEW MENTALITY
The first thing the Giants did this offseason was fire Pat Shurmur and hire Joe Judge. Judge is an intense guy who brings all of the right mentality and fire to a team that has struggled through a transitional period, moving on from veterans who have won to younger guys who are hungry for success. Judge is also a guy who knows how to win.
He’s been a part of three Super Bowls in New England and two national championships at Alabama. It seems that a big reason the Giants weren’t aggressive in pursuing pass rush help is simply that Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham have adopted a style very similar to that of the Patriots where they were so successful. Bill Belichick is a big believer in building a defense from the back to the front. That means the team doesn’t rely on one guy to rack up all the sacks as many teams do. We’ve seen this for years in New England as the Patriots continuously based their defense around corners and linebackers like Dont’a Hightower, Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, and Darrell Revis before that. The Giants seem to be trying out this method of building a defense back to front.
The team has invested heavily in defense. Notably the cornerback and middle linebacker positions this offseason with high paying contracts to James Bradberry and Blake Martinez along with an abundance of young talent in the secondary.
NAMES THAT WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE PASS RUSH GROUP
Although it’s evident that Big Blue is not going for a defense based around a high volume pass rusher like Von Miller or Khalil Mack, the team still needs multiple guys to contribute in order to get the same sack numbers as teams with the Miller or Mack type guy. So who can Giants’ fans rely on?
The Giants have a handful of guys who have proven rush the passer. Kyler Fackrell and Markus Golden are two veteran players who have both recorded ten plus sack seasons in the past two years. The Giants need just half of that production from both guys if everyone is going to contribute. There are also guys up front like Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and B.J. Hill who can all pick up three to five sacks each.
If all goes as planned, these guys will all do their part. That is in becoming a well-oiled machine that will be the new Patrick Graham defense.
POTENTIAL BREAKOUTS TO LEAD THE PACK
In defense, there are always one or two guys who lead the way. Even if it’s by a slim margin. Guys who the rest of the team can rely on to always play a good game. Two potential candidates to fill these roles are DT, Dalvin Tomlinson, and second-year edge rusher, Oshane Ximines.
Tomlinson is a guy that has already been looked at as a leader. His play has consistently been above average. However, he’s primed to become that household name for the Giants in 2020. Tomlinson has always been an incredible run stuffer. He has also been progressing as a pocket collapsing force throughout the start of his young career and has really added a solid pass rushing aspect to his game. Not to mention that his defensive line coach from his rookie season, Patrick Graham, is back with the Giants as defensive coordinator. Tomlinson has voiced his pleasure with the return of Graham.
Ximines is more of a question mark than Tomlinson but he has more potential to explode onto the scene. Last season as a rookie out of Old Dominion, Ximines showcased that he can get to the QB. He recorded 4.5 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and 9 quarterback hits all on limited snaps. Ximines could very well be that eight or nine sack guy that leads the way for the Giants pass rush this season.
As we move closer to a questionable season, it seems clear what the Giants may be trying to do on defense. Hold your horses on selling out because the Giants don’t have a Strahan or Jason Pierre-Paul. At the end of the day, they also have Saquon Barkley.