As training camp approaches, we will take an in depth look at the defending champions.
Position: Defensive line.
Projected Starters: DE Justin Tuck, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, DE Jason Pierre-Paul.
Backups: DE Osi Umenyiora, DT Marvin Austin, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Shaun Rogers, DE Justin Trattou and DE Adrian Tracey.
Player to watch: Linval Joseph. In his first full season as a starter with the Giants last year, Joseph was inconsistent and sometimes invisible on the field in the first half of the season. Leading up to the bye week Joseph had a combined 13 tackles and zero sacks. Joseph continued to develop after the bye week and had his coming out party during week 13 against the Green Bay Packers when he registered nine tackles and held the Green Bay rushing attack to a meager 2.0 yards per carry. Throughout the playoffs, Joseph had 11 tackles and registered the most quarterback pressures than any other defensive tackle. With all the threats the Giants have coming off the edge, the 6’4” / 330lb monster that Linval Joseph is, should continue to improve. Without the ability to double team him, Joseph should be able to use his size and strength to become a massive problem for opposing offensive lines.
Strength: The Giants arguably have the best trio of defensive ends in the league. There is no other team in the league that has a backup defensive end who has registered seven sacks or more in each of the past four seasons. Tuck played hurt for most of last season but repaired his shoulder this offseason and is motivated to get back to the player he used to be. Pierre-Paul was given a chance to start in the pre-season when Umenyiora has shoulder surgery and he has emerged as a star. Umenyiora has taken care of his contract issues and will be on the field for the 2012 season. Throw in the Giants’ best kept secret Mathias Kiwanuka, the hybrid DE/OLB, and the Giants rushing attack becomes one of the best weapons the Giants have.
Weakness: Stopping the run. There is a downside to having the best rushing attack in the league. The Giants struggled for most of the 2011 season against the run. The Giants had the 19th ranked rushing defense and allowed eleven 100 yard rushing performances by the opposing team. Chris Canty should continue to be a solid DT and Linval Joseph will improve. Rocky Bernard was resigned this offseason and will be back with the team, and Marvin Austin will be back from injury. With the possibility that the Giants have found three quality starters at linebacker, playing all three linebackers instead of three safeties should improve the run defense as well.
Hit or miss: Marvin Austin. After missing his entire rookie season due to injury Austin will be back on the field this season for the Giants. The reason he I a hit or miss is because during his last year at college he missed the entire season because of a NCAA suspension. The Giants are eager to see what the two years removed player can do. The Giants were able to snag the first round talent DT in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
About the Author
Written by Matthew Stapleton
Ridgewood, New Jersey