Between the time Jason Pierre-Paul mangled his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident and signed a contract on Tuesday to return to the New York Giants for the rest of the season, many angry Giants fans called for the team to simply cut ties with the damaged defensive end. The Giants were plenty angry themselves -- go back and read some of John Mara's remarks -- but they stayed the course, hoping that despite whatever animosity existed between the two sides something would work out.
Now it has, with Pierre-Paul signing what is reported to be an incentive-laden deal for the remainder of the season.
It has been my position all along that, whatever misgivings the sides have about each other -- and despite all the smiling, happy faces now media reports tell us there have been plenty of those -- the two sides need each other. Maybe not for the long-term. We will have to see what happens at the conclusion of this season. But, now? Without a doubt.
Why did the Giants put up with everything that has gone on with Pierre-Paul the past few months? The Giants have always taken care of players who have dealt with unfortunate circumstances, like Chad Jones or David Wilson. That's not what they stuck with JPP, though. The real reason is pretty obvious, isn't it?
They need to win football games. Tom Coughlin is likely fighting for his coaching career. The Giants are fighting for a playoff berth in a race that may come down to one game, or one or two plays. The Giants have a pitiful nine quarterback sacks in seven games, 31st in the league. Their defensive line is last in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate at 3.4 percent. Game after game we see quarterbacks stand in the pocket with an eternity to make a decision. Some have been able to take advantage, some haven't, but that isn't a long-term recipe for success.
Damontre Moore can rush the passer, but thus far he hasn't been able to stop making foolish mistakes that cancel out whatever good he does. The Giants have no one else who would really be considered a dynamic pass rusher, or even anything close to that.
No one, truthfully, knows what Pierre-Paul can do at this point. The 2011 16.5-sack, All-Pro version of Pierre-Paul hasn't existed for a loooooong time and is probably never coming back. Does the guy who put together a nine sacks in five games stretch at the end of last season still exist? Does something close to that still exist? Nobody knows.
What we do know is that the Giants can't pressure quarterbacks with any consistency with the players they currently have, whether they rush four, five or six. Can Pierre-Paul help? Again, we truthfully don't know. His resume says that at least there is a chance, though we won't know until we see how the re-configured hand and the long layoff impact him. They aren't paying him just to be nice, just because they feel bad that he lost his finger -- and a lot of money. They need him to give them something -- anything -- on the field.
Besides, Pierre-Paul is not a bad guy. He might still be an immature one in some ways, and there is no doubt he made a stupid mistake. He isn't Greg Hardy, however. I have referred to the Dallas Cowboys defensive end in the past as a "despicable human being," and will stand by that. Pierre-Paul isn't even Will Hill, whom the Giants finally gave up on after a number of league-imposed suspensions for violations of the league's substance abuse policy. Pierre-Paul is a guy who screwed up, and has paid an awful price for that.
The risk with Pierre-Paul for the Giants now, mitigated somewhat by the incentive-laden contract, is on the field. Not off of it.
Pierre-Paul needs the Giants, too. Which is why I have never really understood why JPP and his reps pushed the Giants away from the beginning of this ordeal. Anyway, Pierre-Paul always needed to keep the Giants on his side because they were never going to turn him loose as a free agent. Why would they take the chance he would sign somewhere else for the stretch run and help a different team make the playoffs?
If Pierre-Paul was going to play football this season it was always going to be with the Giants. He needs them because he has a reputation to rebuild as a dominant defensive end. He can be a free agent again at the end of the season and he needs to convince someone, whether that's the Giants or another team, that he is still worthy of a large financial investment.
How long will it take Pierre-Paul to get ready? The Giants have a two-week roster exemption, which takes them to Week 10 vs. the New England Patriots. Their bye week comes immediately after that, so we will see.
Ever since the Giants sent Pierre-Paul away right before the start of the season I think this late-season scenario, getting whatever help they can from Pierre-Paul, is what the Giants envisioned. Both sides now have an opportunity to get something they want.
Let's see how it plays out.