Pro Football Focus has been running a series it calls 'Secret Superstar.' Recently, PFF listed New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph as one of its 'secret superstars.'
Joseph proved to be a good player in 2011, his second season in the NFL and his first receiving regular snaps. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder from East Carolina proved to be a capable run stopper who had 52 tackles and two sacks. He seamlessly replaced Barry Cofield in the Giants defensive tackle rotation. But 'secret superstar?' Let's see how our knowledgeable friends from PFF justify that.
Joseph's overall PFF grade for the season was +8.1, sixth among Giants defenders. PFF, however, goes beyond that grade in assessing Joseph's 2011 season.
PFF focused on several under-the-radar performances by Joseph in late-season games, especially an eight-tackle Week 13 game against the Green Bay Packers in which he scored +3.9.
PFF's Ben Stockwell wrote:
"Even against teams as driven by the pass as Green Bay the ground game is still integral to providing an offense with some semblance of balance. What Joseph showed in that game was his potential as a player with the bulk (carrying 328 pounds according to his listed weight) and the lateral agility to deal with every type of run that might come his way."
PFF also noted that Joseph built on that performance and had quality performances against the New York Jets in Week 16 and throughout the Giants run to the Super Bowl title.
"When it counted most, like that nationally broadcasted game against Green Bay and particularly in the Giants' surprising Super Bowl run, he delivered in bunches. With an overall grade of +7.0 he was our highest-graded defensive tackle for the playoffs. In spite of recording zero sacks, he managed more total pressures than any other defensive tackle and his four stops were the most at his position in the playoffs."
Superstar? I'm still not sure about that. The superstars on the Giants defense, or at least the guys who get the glory, are the defensive ends. I am sure, though, that it looks like the Giants have themselves a player who can be a force in the middle for years to come.