Justin Tuck: Better vs. 49ers than we thought?

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Did defensive end Justin Tuck play better against the San Francisco 49ers than we originally thought? Maybe.

Did Justin Tuck play better Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers than we gave him credit for? The analysts at Pro Football Focus think so.

Tuck was officially credited with zero tackles and one quarterback hit in 40 snaps on Sunday as the New York Giants routed the 49ers, 26-3.

In Monday's 'Kudos & Wet Willies,' I wrote this:

"Amidst all the great work by the defensive front with six sacks and I have no idea how many hurries, as well as pretty good run defense, the name Justin Tuck does not even appear on the stat sheet. Tuck played 40 of 61 defensive snaps without registering even an assist, though he did get one quarterback hit. How does that happen?"

In Tuesday's Giants' roster rankings I dropped the seemingly unproductive 2012 version of Tuck from 16th all the way down to 27th.

PFF vehemently disagrees with my assessment, giving Tuck a +2.8 (+3.2 pass rush) grade for the game and crediting him with seven "quarterback disruptions." PFF wrote:

He came into this game with only six QB disruptions (sacks, hits, hurries) on the season and more than doubled that total with his one hit and six hurries. He got around 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis on multiple occasions, including forcing Smith to step up in the pocket on his first interception with 14:02 to go in the second quarter. Tuck's exemplary work came on only 26 pass rush attempts and Sunday was clearly his best game of the season at +2.8 overall (+3.2 pass rush).

So, what to do? My eyes told me Tuck was not impressive. PFF's grade tells me he was the best Giants' defensive player on Sunday despite the stat sheet. Thus, courtesy of NFL Game Rewind, it's back to the film.

What is the truth? Was Tuck as much of a force as PFF would have you believe? Was he as much of a non-factor as the stat sheet, and the naked eye, would tell you?

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

PFF is right that Tuck did cause Smith to step up on the Amukamara interception. Still, Smith has a pretty clean pocket when he releases the ball and is really in no danger. Judge for yourself. Is this pressure? Does Tuck force Smith to hurry this throw?

Smithpick_medium_medium

via cdn0.sbnation.com

I honestly don't know how Pro Football Focus defines, or judges, a hurry. What I can tell you is this: After re-watching the broadcast I will give Tuck credit for a better performance than what it initially looked look. Including the Amukamara interception, I would give him credit for five "disruptions,' including four hurries and a hit. All of those, incidentally, were in the first half. The Giants weren't on the field much defensively in the second half, and Adrian Tracy finished up the game for Tuck.

In the end, the conclusion has to be that Tuck was not the invisible man the stat sheet would have you believe. Neither, though, was he the difference-maker Pro Football Focus's grade would indicate.

Here is more from this week's Pro Football Focus grades:

Offense

Best

David Baas +3.1
Domenik Hixon +3.0
Victor Cruz +2.6
Henry Hynoski +2.0
Ahmad Bradshaw +1.7
David Wilson +1.2

Worst

Sean Locklear -2.5

Defense

Best

Justin Tuck +2.8
Linval Joseph +2.3
Antrel rolle +2.0
Adrian Tracy +1.7
Jacquian Williams +1.4

Worst

Jayron Hosley -1.8

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