It might not have been pretty (in fact, it’s never pretty with the Giants), but they are 8-3, and their six game winning streak is their longest since 2008.
Ordinarily when folks talk about football teams, they start with the offense. After all, offense sells tickets and this is a quarterback driven league. But ... Since the New York Giants’ defense is leading the team, we’re going to flip the script a little bit and start with them.
Yeah, we have to start with Jason Pierre-Paul. Good things tend to happen for the Giants when he takes a game over.
(Well, a fumble recovery for a TD. I bet if it hit the ground the zebras would have ruled an incomplete pass though.)
While there has been much consternation among fans over JPP’s box score — and the lack of sacks in particular — he has been stout in the run game and consistently producing pressure.
The last two weeks, however, he has converted that pressure into sacks to the tune of 5.5 in just two games.
In 69 snaps (92 percent of the defensive snaps ... Nice of them to give his injured knee a rest) JPP racked up 3.0 sacks, 7 tackles, 7 defensive stops, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Pro Football Focus gave JPP an 87.1 grade for his efforts, good for the game ball, but not worth mentioning as one of the 10 best players from Sunday.
Across from him Olivier Vernon had a strong day as well, credited with 1.5 (or 2.0 according to PFF) sacks going against Joe Thomas. Thomas might not be THE best left tackle in football anymore, but he is still the most technically proficient and Vernon deserves credit for his work.
PFF had this to say about the Giants’ bookends:
[The Giants] Edge defender duo continues to rack up pressures. Edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon combined to record 15 total pressures as Pierre-Paul had three sacks and two hurries, while Vernon finished the game with two sacks, three quarterback hits and five hurries.
To save folks some math, they are crediting JPP with five total pressures (3 sacks + two hurries). Meanwhile in his 71 snaps, Vernon was credited with 10 total pressures. Between the two, they pressured Josh McCown on an impressive 37 percent of his pass attempts.
The Giants’ defense as a whole pressured McCown on 58.5 percent of his pass attempts.
The other starting defensive linemen, Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison, both played 47 snaps and were graded 79.6 and 78.0 respectively.
The Giants’ back up defensive linemen weren’t much of a factor in the snap counts. Defensive end Romeo Okwara played the most at 24 snaps and defensive tackle Robert Thomas played 12 snaps. Bringing up the rear were Kerry Wynn and Owamagbe Odighizuwa at 5 and 4 snaps, respectively.
Behind the starters linebacker Keenan Robinson once again played the majority of the snaps at 60, while Kelvin Sheppard played 25. Devon Kennard saw his role in the defense increase again, playing 47 total snaps.
In the secondary safety Landon Collins once again played every one of the Giants’ 75 defensive snaps while taking a small break from the torrid pace he has set since London. Andrew Adams, however, has continued to impress PFF. Playing 69 snaps he was graded an 81.2. His 82.9 season grade makes him the 15th highest graded safety in the NFL according to PFF.
Accustomed to playing every snap, an undisclosed issue limited Janoris Jenkins to 62 snaps. Meanwhile Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (49 snaps) was graded a strong 78.5. Rookie Eli Apple, who was denied an Amari Toomer-esque toe drag swag interception by a technicality in the rules, played 58 snaps.
The Giants’ offense was once again maddeningly inconsistent. Eli Manning seemed off early, missing Odell Beckham Jr. (80.7 per PFF) on a pair of throws that probably would have gone for touchdowns. But he settled down as the game wore on. Beckham, who rarely comes out of the game, only played 44 snaps, leaving the field twice with a thumb issue.
However, despite roasting talented corner Joe Haden with apparent ease, Beckham wasn’t the Giants’ most highly graded offensive player. That honor goes to right tackle Bobby Hart with an 81.7.
The Giants’ line held up well overall, giving up just seven pressures on 29 passing plays.
Will Tye played nearly every offensive snap (49 snaps, 88 percent) and was graded a 77.8 by PFF. His blocking seems to be improving as he laid a key block to allow Paul Perkins to pick up a first down.
Interestingly, the Giants seem set on giving Perkins roughly 40 percent of the workload at running back, a mark he has been at for a while now. This week he got 22 offensive snaps, while Rashad Jennings had his total (28 snaps, 50 percent) eaten into by Bobby Rainey (6 snaps, 11 percent). This could give us some indication as to how the Giants would use Shane Vereen should he return from injured reserve.