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PFF pass-rush rankings are bad news, then more bad news, for Giants

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The Giants’ pass rush may remain anemic in 2018.

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants were hardly a pass-rushing, quarterback-pressuring defense in 2017. On the whole, the unit tallied just 27 sacks, and the lack of disrupting opposing quarterbacks’ plans helped contribute to New York ranking 31st in passing yards and 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed.

But that’s not even the bad news; rather, it’s that things don’t project to be much better in the upcoming season. According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants are entering the 2018 season with the 29th-ranked pass-rushing unit in the league.

The departure of Jason Pierre-Paul, who led the Giants with 8.5 sacks a season ago, is one reason for the lowered expectations. Additionally, beyond Olivier Vernon, who had 6.5 sacks in 2017 (or nine, per PFF’s charting), there is at least an on-paper dearth of pass-rushing talent in the expected starting lineup. If that translates to on-field struggles, the Giants don’t appear to be in line for a pass-rushing renaissance this year.

As PFF’s Gordon McGuinness points out, the expected starting edge rusher alongside Vernon, Kareem Martin, has just 35 total quarterback pressures over his last four seasons. Though McGuinness notes that tackles Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson “are stud run defenders... neither should be expected to offer much as pass-rushers in 2018.” Vernon, it appears, is all the team has in terms of proven production when going after quarterbacks.

The ranking puts the Giants in a poor position relative to their NFC East counterparts. The three other teams in the division all have top-10 pass-rushing units in PFF’s estimation: The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles rank first; Washington ranks sixth; and the Dallas Cowboys rank eighth.

Though the PFF rankings are certainly not the be-all, end-all of preseason predictions, nor does it guarantee that the Giants won’t ultimately improve their ability to pressure quarterbacks, it is true that the team’s defensive front has not added any proven pass rushers.