Jason Pierre-Paul is no longer a member of the New York Giants, having been sent to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a sudden and surprising trade on Thursday. Beyond all of the ramifications of moving on from JPP for the Giants’ defense, their draft plans, their salary cap and everything else I have been trying to figure out how I feel about JPP’s eight seasons with the Giants.
The best word I can come up with to describe it is “conflicted.”
Pierre-Paul is seventh on the Giants’ career sack list with 53.5 during his eight seasons. There was that incredible All-Pro 16.5-sack 2011 season. There were two Pro Bowls. There was the 2011 Super Bowl his play helped them win.
There was that inspirational comeback from his 2015 fireworks accident, not only returning to the NFL but playing productively despite having blown off half of his right hand and often having to wear a protective club.
There were always a few splash plays each season, and there was consistently solid run defense. He was always a guy who rarely came off the field, probably playing more snaps than he should have and probably playing through a variety of injuries when others would have just collected their paychecks and watched from the sideline.
But ... but ... but ... Pierre-Paul’s career with the Giants always felt it could have — no, should have — been more than it was. He always seemed to promise more than he could deliver, and the amazing promise of 2011 always seemed to leave whatever he did produce falling short of what you hoped he would produce.
I was always left wanting more from Pierre-Paul — feeling like there should have been more. More All-Pro seasons. More sacks. More dominance. Maybe even more maturity and willingness to lead.
Am I off-base to be conflicted like this? I checked with BBV’s Chris Pflum and Dan Pizzuta as to how they would describe JPP’s Giants career, and their responses gave me the idea they share sentiments similar to my own.
“I’d say at once over-rated and under-appreciated. Never quite lived up to his promise as a pass rusher, far exceeded expectations as a run defender, and played hard even when the scheme didn’t put him in position to succeed.”
“Underwhelming is what comes to mind though I’m not sure how fair that is. That 2011 season was so good and set expectations so high it was going to be so hard to live up to it ... the only thing that would have met expectations after that would have been a Hall of Fame career but how fair is it to continually expect that?”
Pierre-Paul back-flipped his way into Jerry Reese’s heart before the 2010 draft. Then, his smile and his relentless play during that 2011 season left many seeing JPP as perhaps being the next Giants Hall of Fame defensive end.
He never approached that 2011 level again. Sometimes he was really good. Sometimes he played really hard and had an impact, but just didn’t finish plays. Sometimes he disappeared for what seemed to be games — and maybe even seasons — at a time.
The hand injury, obviously, robbed him of a lot. Even when he isn’t wearing a club, there have to be times when the lack of a full right hand limits his ability to make plays. There have also been back and shoulder injuries that have taken some of his athleticism, though not his passion for the game.
Maybe it’s just that after seeing that incredible 2011 season you knew what Pierre-Paul had been capable of. I can’t help the fact that we never saw that again leaves me with a sense of ... disappointment.
Am I the only one?