The New York Giants have gone through a full transformation over the course of this season, from a 2-3 team who was dead-last in the NFL in sacks to a red-hot 10-4 team with an elite defense. Two months ago, sideline antics by Odell Beckham Jr. dominated headlines. Today all everyone’s talking about is Steve Spagnuolo’s unit, some wondering aloud whether or not the Giants’ defense is the league’s best.
Damon “Snacks” Harrison was among the first to dispel that notion Monday. Despite becoming the first team to hold the Detroit Lions out of the end zone this year, Snacks isn’t ready pat his team on the back.
“You hear me say it time and time again. We’re still not where we should be or where we want to be right now. We’ve had some really good moments and we’ve had some not-so-great moments,” he said. “You can ask anyone around the defense, any players or coach and they’ll tell you. We’re still not where we need to be as a defense. It was great to have some successes every now and then, but we just want to be more consistent.”
Taking things one game at a time has been something of a mantra for McAdoo, and it’s obviously trickled down to his team. That isn’t a bad thing. Harrison has yet to play a postseason game in his career, a fact he’s keenly aware of. The Giants’ haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011 and Harrison won’t take anything for granted.
“I’ve never been to the postseason or anything like that. ... I really cannot comment on that because I haven’t experienced that to the next level. We (along with Janoris Jenkisn and Olivier Vernon) just wanted to do our job to the best of our ability. We knew if that was the case, then everything else will fall in place.”
One constant for Big Blue has been the offense — it still isn’t very good. While Eli Manning and company looked better against Detroit, they were still outgained by the Lions (324 yards to 300) and averaged less than five yards per play.
Having the Giants’ offense come together would certainly help during the playoffs, granted they get in, but it hasn’t been reliable all season. Waiting for them to suddenly ‘click’ so late in the year may be fool’s gold. The Giants’ will go as far as the defense can carry them and, while Snacks believes in the talent on the other side of the ball, he accepts the challenge.
“No matter the situation, we feel that we can handle it. It’s just a matter of going out there and holding the team to something manageable,” Harrison said. “Any time you have Eli Manning at quarterback and a guy like Odell, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard, you always give your team a chance if you can play good, solid defense. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
That’s what they must continue to do, starting with Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. They picked Carson Wentz off twice when the two teams met last in November, but gave up 443 yards in the process. This time there’s no Jason Pierre-Paul and possibly no Janoris Jenkins. Harrison and the defense haven’t missed a beat without either yet, and another week offers another opportunity for the defense to prove itself.