We turn our attention to the defense today as we continue our series of 2010 New York Giants positional reviews. We will focus today on the defensive line. In truth, this is an easy one. Pretty much a blanket 'kudos' goes to the entire group.
Justin Tuck gets 'kudos' for a brilliant season, getting 11.5 sacks, making 76 tackles and earning a Pro Bowl spot. Osi Umenyiora gets 'kudos' for a terrific comeback season that saw him also net 11.5 sacks and force a league record-tying 10 fumbles. Nobody is more dangerous bearing down on the quarterback from the outside than Osi.
The two bookend defensive ends, however, aren't the only defensive linemen who deserve 'kudos.'
How about 'kudos' for Barry Cofield, who likely earned himself a big 2011 payday from someone with the best season of his five-year career, setting career highs in sacks (four) and tackles (69). I am putting Chris Canty in the 'kudos' category, as well. Canty is not one of those guys who will compile flashy stats, but he holds his own at the line of scrimmage, does his job and clears the path for middle linebacker Jonathan Goff to make tackles. Throw in 'kudos' for No. 1 pick Jason Pierre-Paul, as well. He played more snaps than we thought he would this season, and played well enough to convert many who were unhappy when he was drafted to the belief that he will be a terrific player for a long time. Finished his rookie season with 4.5 sacks.
I can't give 'kudos' to Rocky Bernard, but I can't bash him, either. The veteran defensive tackle is overpaid based on his production, but he did make some plays when given the opportunity in 2010. 'Kwillie' for him. Probably the same for Dave Tollefson. I would give him 'kudos,' but even his mom was mad at him at the end of the season, so I can't. A 'kwillie' also for Linval Joseph, who has a chance to become an excellent run-stopper inside but got very limited opportunities to play in 2010. Joseph will step into a much bigger role in 2011 if Cofield leaves via free agency, and that might not be a bad thing for the Giants.
As for Mathias Kiwanuka, I can't grade him at all after he played only two games. I hope that his Giants career is not over. He's a terrific player, and a class act.