It's all about the pass rush, stupid!
Since 2007 the ultimate successes -- and occasional failures -- of the New York Giants defense have been about one thing. Blasting quarterbacks into next week, and forcing bad throws or mistakes.
Only thus far in 2009 the Giants, despite being 5-1, have not been as successful as they need to be in harassing quarterbacks.We all know that Sunday New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees practically had enough time to open a picnic basket and have a sandwich on many throws before slicing apart the Giants' secondary.
That, however, was not the first time this season the Giants vaunted pass rush had disappeared. They have a pedestrian 14 sacks through six games, tied for 10th in the league. Eleven of those came against woeful Kansas City and Oakland. The Giants have gone sackless three times already this season.
Plain and simple, that is not good enough. Not for a line that features Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, Fred Robbins and more.
I am tired of hearing Giants defenders talk about reading keys. I am tired of hearing them talk about not doing their techniques properly. I am tired of hearing that the opposition slowed them with play-action, or max protection, or by putting up an invisible force field around their quarterback. Or whatever. I don't care.
Great defenses DICTATE TO the offense. They don't react to it. The Giants seem to have forgotten that thus far in 2009.
The key difference this season, of course, is that former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo -- architect of the Giants pressure schemes -- has moved on to St. Louis. In his place is Bill Sheridan, hired to maintain those schemes but by nature a more cerebral guy than Spags. A thinker. A guy more prone to worry about what opposing offenses are doing instead of just attacking.
By no means am I here to rip Sheridan. Tom Coughlin believes in him. There has to be a learning curve for any new coach, as there was for Spags. Besides, General Manager Jerry Reese built this defense around a deep, awesomely talented defensive line with the idea that the Giants SHOULD be able to win the line of scrimmage and pressure the quarterback with just four. Unfortunately, that group is under-achieving thus far in 2009. And you are not going to convince me it is due to the injuries to tackles Chris Canty and Jay Alford.
So, that brings us back to creating pressure. And to Sheridan's learning curve.
Beginning Sunday against Arizona, will the Giants bring the blitz more often? Sheridan was asked about this Thursday, and his answer was simple.
Sheridan knows he didn't bring enough pressure last week. Hopefully, we don't see that again.
"We didn’t do a great job pressuring the quarterback. On my part - should have, would have, could have – we would have, especially at some point in the game, figured out what they were doing, that their aim is really to throw the ball on us. And we should’ve just pressured more. Not only more frequently, but send more guys than they could pick up," he said. "You are not going to pressure every single down in football. We don’t. I don’t believe in that. But in hindsight, sure, if we had it to do over again, we would pressured much more, more frequently and sent more guys than they could block."
That should be music to the ears of every quarterback sack-loving Giants fan. And, hopefully, bad news for quarterbacks.