There are a zillion intriguing sub-plots when you think about Saturday's meeting between the New York Giants and New York Jets. None more interesting -- and critical to the success or failure of the Giants -- than the match-up between Superman and the Brick, or Giants star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Jets two-time Pro Bowl left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
We have pretty much seen it for the past several weeks. If JPP doesn't make big plays for the Giants defense, they pretty much don't get made. His ability to win a one-on-one match-up with Ferguson, or the Giants ability to scheme Pierre-Paul into situations where other Jets have to try and block him, is crucial for the Giants.
Jets coach Rex Ryan is looking forward to watching Pierre-Paul and Ferguson go at it.
"I think with Pierre-Paul, I think when you look at him, if you're going to block him with one guy, it's going to take a player like D'Brickashaw (Ferguson)," said Ryan. "There are very few Pierre-Pauls in the league. There are very few D'Brickashaw Fergusons in the league. But, will he have help sometimes? I'm not going to give you the game plan, but I think it goes without saying that occasionally he's going to have some help."
Pierre-Paul, in his second season, had eight tackles, two sacks including one for a safety, a forced fumble and a game-saving blocked field goal against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. Last week against Washington he was a one-man defense with 16 tackles and a sack. He has 13.5 quarterback sacks for the season.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has certainly noticed Pierre-Paul, and he would rather not get an up-close-and-personal introduction Saturday afternoon.
"He's been having a heck of a year. It'd be crazy to say you haven't noticed him," Sanchez said. "He's a great player. He finishes to the whistle and I think that's one of the biggest things, he's just relentless."
Ferguson, of course, is a great player in his own right. He made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons by having plenty of success against some of the game's best pass-rushers. He knows he is meeting another one on Saturday.
"I think he's a great defensive end. I think he's a young guy with a lot of talent. He's doing well in this league. I think it'll be a great battle between our line and myself against him," Ferguson said. "I think he just takes advantage of opportunities given to him. He has a lot of talent. Every year, there's always one guy or a couple of guys that really have showed themselves to be improved, and I think he's just really taken advantage of his (opportunities)."
For me, it will not only be interesting to see how Pierre-Paul does against Ferguson. It will also be interesting to see how much Perry Fewell moves the star defensive end around to try and get him matched up against lesser-skilled blockers.
Whatever it is going to take, the Giants need to get plays from Pierre-Paul on Saturday. Which makes Pierre-Paul vs. Ferguson a fascinating match-up to watch.