Can the New York Giants end their four-year playoff drought this season? During a recent visit to Giants training camp, ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio told the team’s web site that the success or failure of the season will depend on one thing — the pass rush.
“I think this team needs to close the deal on defense. The way to do that is with the pass rush in the fourth quarter,” Paolantonio told Giants.com’s John Schmeelk.
The key to that? In Paolantonio’s view, that would be Jason Pierre-Paul.
“I’m anxious to see what kind of production he can give the team in the pass rush. I think that’s the key, that’s the key around the National Football League,” Paolantonio said. “If you have good quarterback play, Giants have great quarterback play, if you have a good to great pass rush you can find yourself standing in the divisional round, in the NFC Championship Game if you can get the pass rush fixed.”
The Giants had an anemic pass rush last season, finishing 30th in the league with 23 sacks. They signed defensive end Olivier Vernon to a rich contract in an effort to revive that pass rush, but they will also need a significant contribution from Pierre-Paul.
GM Jerry Reese spoke optimistically about Pierre-Paul over the weekend.
“Jason looks like a beast out here. His motor is running hot. You are talking about a guy that looks like he is on a mission. He looks like he is on a mission to me,” Reese said. “Actually, I was talking to Coach McAdoo last night and he was like, “Man, I have to tone Jason down a little bit because he is going so hard out there.” He is a man on a mission and he looks like the old JPP.”
He isn’t the old Pierre-Paul, obviously, not with a permanently damaged right hand. He showed last season that he still has the ability to be disruptive. With a glove this season rather than a club on that hand, the question will be whether he can go from being disruptive to actually being able to finish plays.