Jonathan Goff Injury: How Big Of A Loss To The Giants?

Jonathan Goff of the New York Giants against the Detroit Lions at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Just how big of a loss to the New York Giants defense is middle linebacker Jonathan Goff's season-ending torn ACL? The Big Blue View community seems to be split on that question.

Here are some of the comments that have been posted since the news of Goff's injury became public on Tuesday.

Reality check

We’re not exactly replacing a pro-bowl LB with Jones. Goff was a middling (pun intended) MLB. I think it will be hard to notice a significant drop off. Of course, mistakes in coverage can be very costly, but we’ll see soon enough.

-- TheGifford

Goff

was a far-from-middling run stopping LB.Plus he ran the defense on the field. Make no mistake, he will be greatly missed.

-- Bigbluethruandthru

He's the single most underrated, underappreciated player on this team.

If he had Antonio Pierce’s swagger and demeanor (instead of just being a guy who goes and does his job), everyone would love him and rave about him.

It’s kind of a shame that he gets so easily overlooked. He’s one of the best run stoppers in the game.

-- Jonathan

Those give you some idea of the differences of opinion regarding Goff, a fourth-year player who was entering his second full season as the Giants starting middle linebacker.

Which side do I come down on? I love the potential of Greg Jones, and I think there is a strong chance that -- as the Giants did this year with Barry Cofield -- they might have allowed Goff to leave after this season and given Jones the job in 2012, but this is a HUGE loss for the 2011 Giants' defense.

The Pro Football Focus numbers show that Goff was a top 10 run defender among middle linebackers in 2010 (+14.5). That is a better grade than Brian Urlacher, Stephen Tulloch, Ray Lewis, London Fletcher-Baker, Karlos Dansby and Paul Posluszny, among others. His pass defense was not good (-2.9), but Goff's primary job in Perry Fewell's defense is to be a run-stuffer and to call the defense. He does both very well.

With this being Goff's second season as a starter, and second season calling Perry Fewell's defense, I was looking for him to take a huge step forward this season.

This is what linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said about Goff during training camp.

"I think he really worked hard on his movement skills, quickness, agility. You can see it out here. He's made several big plays when maybe a year ago he might have just gotten there. Now, he's there. That's the flash that you want," Herrmann said. "I think every year that I've been with Jon, he's gotten better and better and better, and this year is the same. He's gotten better. He feels comfortable. He's a leader out there. That's what I like."

Goff played 700 snaps last season, and many other top linebackers played 900 or more. Fewell had indicated during training camp that Goff would not come off the field as often in 2011 on passing downs.So, yes, his role and importance to the defense were expected to grow.

Can Greg Jones fill his shoes? How do we know? The Giants were fortunate to find Jones still available in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and we know that during preseason he showed that he can be an impact player on special teams and flashed potential as a linebacker.

To expect Jones to be able to step right in is asking an awful lot. Remember, talented or not there is no way Jones can understand the defense -- and his responsibilities in it -- as well as Goff. Especially without OTAs or mini-camps.

What can Kawika Mitchell do if the Giants bring him in? Again, how do we know? The guy knows Fewell's defense from his Buffalo days, but he has played six NFL games in two years and he has had knee and foot injuries. What does he have left in the tank and how many hits will it take before he is hurt again? Nobody knows.

So, yes, the loss of Goff is a big one for the Giants. To think it isn't is simply being unrealistic.

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