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Mid-term grades: Looking at the defense

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Sam Madison's play has been a big plus for the Giants defense thus far. (AP Photo)
Let's continue our look at the New York Giants at the midpoint of the season by looking at the defense.

Steve Spagnuolo's unit has played exceptionally well since giving up a total of 80 points in two season-opening losses. Let's break it down.

Defensive Line: This unit has been dominant. What we will call the 'Blue Crush' unit of Osi Umenyiora (8 sacks), Justin Tuck (7.5), Mathias Kiwanuka (4.5) and Michael Strahan (4) has been terrorizing quarterbacks in long-yardage situations. It's a unique group and has been unblockable so far. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield have been solid when the Giants have used two traditional tackles. Grade: A+

Linebackers: Antonio Pierce leads the Giants in tackles with 56, but he has to take a hit here for the numerous stupid personal foul penalties he has picked up in recent weeks. Kawiki Mitchell has played decently at one outside linebacker spot. Kiwanuka is improving at the other spot, though I think everyone recognizes the best plays he has made this season have come when he has lined up on the defensive line. Grade: B

Cornerbacks: Sam Madison is playing extremely well and Aaron Ross is showing good coverage and tackling skills, plus an ability to actually catch the ball. Kevin Dockery has been decent as the third corner. This unit is fine as long as Corey Webster and RW McQuarters don't see the field very often. Grade: B

Safeties: Gibril Wilson is playing with abandon again, and is second on the team with 44 tackles. James Butler hasn't made any major mistakes, but I'm still not sold on him as a long-term solution at safety. Rookie Michael Johnson has shown potential when he has gotten opportunities. Grade: B

NOTE: Special teams and a review of the coaching staff are still to come.