Osi Umenyiora needs a reality check

Osi Umenyiora is delusional.

That is the only thing I can say following his remarks Wednesday about his ability level and his future role with the New York Giants.

Listen to this response when he was asked directly if the knee injury he suffered last season has slowed him at all.

"Absolutely not, I am not sure what tape everybody else has been watching. It seems like everybody is watching a different film than the film we watch in the D-line room. I am just as explosive. I am still the same player that I was," Umenyiora said. "I don’t look at myself and see any difference in the player that I was before and I think anybody that knows about football and watches football will say the same thing."

Umm, sorry Osi. Truth is you are fooling yourself if you think you are the same player you were in 2005 -- the season in which you made your reputation as one of the league's best defensive ends.

I don't think I need extensive film study to tell you that, and if you were being honest with yourself you would admit the same thing. Any Giants fan watching the games every Sunday sees you consistently blown off the ball when teams run in your direction. They see an occasional pass rush, sure. But, they also see you completely abandoning any run responsibility in an often futile attempt to get upfield and outrun the offensive tackle to the quarterback.

Since almost the time I began this blog prior to the 2007 season I have been steadfast in my stance on Umenyiora. I have always said he was not the Giants premier defensive end, first behind Michael Strahan and now behind Justin Tuck. In my eyes, currently also behind Mathias Kiwanuka. Bill Sheridan has made a mess of a lot of things in his first --and probably only -- season as defensive coordinator. Removing Umenyiora from the starting lineup and playing him just as a situational pass rusher is not something he deserves one iota of criticism for. Even though it grates on Umenyiora.

"I am not a third down player; I am not a third down rusher. I can play the run and I have played the run this year. I think I had a bad game against Denver, a bad quarter against Denver, and things kind of snowballed from there, but in actuality who on this team has played excellent every single game. Things happen, so I cannot take that away from myself because I am only in on third down and people say I can’t play the run. That’s absolute B.S because I can and the film is there to prove it."

The hard numbers tell a different story. One Umenyiora obviously does not want to acknowledge.

In 2005 Osi had a career-best 14.5 sacks and 71 tackles, 49 of which were solo. In 2007, his last full season, he had 13 sacks (six in one game, so just a pedestrian 7 in the remaining 15) and his tackles fell to 52 for the season. Pro Football Focus rated Umenyiora an impressive +21.9 overall combining his play in both regular and post-season that year. He was +18.6 as a pass rusher and +3.3 against the run.

So, based strictly on those numbers you can argue -- as I often have -- that he had begun to slide before hurting his knee in the 2008 pre-season. Yes, he was good. But not 2005 great.

His numbers this season are much different. Just seven sacks and a total of 27 tackles, only 17 solo. Pro Football Focus rates him +2.7 overall. that includes a +10.9 against the pass, but a damning -6.2 against the run.

It is brutally obvious to everyone, except it seems Umenyiora himself, that he has not been anywhere close to the dominant force he once was for the Giants.

Despite my seeming Osi-bashing, truth is I love the guy. I hope that those who say he won't be the real Osi until the second year after his knee surgery are right. I hope that he and the Giants can reconcile their very apparent differences over what Osi is, or is not, at this point in his career. I hope that he becomes part of the solution to the Giants defensive struggles, instead of just a scapegoat for all that has gone wrong.

None of that will happen, though, until Umenyiora takes a look in the mirror -- or better yet, an honest look at the film -- and stops lying to himself.

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