I don't post often, but when I do, I prefer to bitch about the Giant defense. As we debate whether our lackluster defense is a result of Perry Fewell's soft zone coverages and three-man rush, or due to a rash of injuries to key defensive players, I can't help but wonder if our poor defensive showings have been largely caused by poor play from our last line of defense; two players who should be game-changing talents. I will leave Deon Grant and TMFS out of this post due to Grant's age and status on the depth chart, and Sash being a rookie 6th round pick.
The Giants rank 27th in the league in points allowed per game, behind such defensive juggernauts as the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. We are 22nd in rushing yards allowed per game, and our secondary, comprised of four 1st round picks (The Prince, Rolle, KP, and Ross), has given us the good fortune of witnessing the fourth-worst passing defense in the league.
Now, we know all about the injuries at the cornerback position, but a top three of Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and the Prince does not look bad on paper at all. We also know that the injury to Goff, and the injuries to Boley have exposed our rookie LBZZ to the extent that it was deemed necessary to sign a career backup and special-teamer, Chase Blackburn, off the street and hand him the starting job against the GB Packers. Furthermore, our linebackers, besides Boley, are not exactly stellar in coverage, to say the least. Because of this, our safeties have been asked to compensate: KP frequently plays 30 yards off the ball, and Rolle has been out of position at nickel cornerback, and in the box in run support, most of the season.
However, this is not C.C. Brown and Aaron Rouse we're talking about: these are two first round picks from the University of Miami, who have been touted as an All-Pro, and as "Superman." You'd expect either of these guys to step up and make a big play every once in a while, and one would even hope that they would make big plays consistently. Maybe it's a result of the scheme, or due to the injuries to Goff, T2 and company, but they have not made many big plays. Perhaps Phillips' knees will never fully recover, but it's frustrating and disappointing when two talented players of their caliber become invisible once the games start.
The two have combined for 3 interceptions (and zero sacks, but that's a result of the scheme) all season long. The only one of those picks that I can remember as actually being a big play at the time was Rolle's INT against Arizona on a long pass attempt to Larry Fitzgerald. In KP's defense, he does have a solid eight passes defended, and he did show commendable class and sportsmanship after his illegal hit on Jimmy Graham, but the big plays are sorely lacking. Possibly the only time this season when a Giants' safety was the difference in the game was when JPP sacked Romo in the end-zone for two points against Dallas.
That's not to say that the safety position has been completely invisible this season. At the end of the day, you can always count on Antrel Rolle to make big plays with his mouth, such as guaranteeing a playoff spot last year, by telling fans that the Giants are a much, much better team than the team they just lost to (that always makes me feel warm and fuzzy), trumpeting from the mountaintops that he was in the right position after a completely blown coverage such as Dez Bryant's easy 50 yard score, and stating the obvious: that the secondary needs to play better. At the end of the day, you can expect to see Rolle making headlines almost every day. Except Sunday, when it counts.
All I have to say is: Thank Tebow for JPP.