The New York Giants defense experienced ground shift when Leonard Williams was traded on October 30th.
Williams might not be a truly dominant player in the vein of Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, Quinnen Williams, or Dexter Lawrence, but he has been a foundational player for the Giants defense over the last four years. Williams is versatile, produces consistent pressure, a dependable run defender, and a true professional on and off the field. As Dexter Lawrence said after the trade, “You can’t replace Leonard”.
Williams has played 3,016 snaps for the Giants defense and has played at least 71 percent of the possible defensive snaps since 2020. Joe Schoen has been praised for getting a second and fifth round pick for a 29-year old defensive tackle on an expiring contract. But the fact remains that he was a big presence on the Giants defense that now needs replacing.
This week’s SB Nation Reacts asked Giants fans which defensive tackle they’d prefer to see start next to Dexter Lawrence. A strong majority, 53 percent, voted for the veteran A’Shawn Robinson.
The Giants added Robinson, a 6-foot-4, 320 pound run stuffing defensive tackle in late April. He started training camp on the PUP list as he worked his way back from the torn meniscus that ended his 2022 season. Both Dexter Lawrence and Joe Schoen called Robinson out for his improving play over the last couple weeks. It seems that fans noticed his play as well and want to see more of it.
Rookie Jordon Riley, who flashed early in the season, as well as 2022 draftee D.J. Davidson got votes as well. Giants fans would like to see more of the young guys, as well as see them get chances to improve and learn over the remainder of the season. The remaining four percent of votes went to veteran Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Realistically, the Giants are going to have an active rotation along their defensive front. We’ll likely see plenty of all four players on defense, as well as Jihad Ward and Carlos Basham depending on the down and distance.
Shifting gears slightly, you might not know it from the tenor of comments after the Giants’ loss to the Jets, but fan confidence remains high.
Seventy-four percent of Giants fans are confident that the team is moving in the correct direction, despite their 2-6 record. Fans seemed despondent after the teams’ most recent loss, but the surprise return of Daniel Jones, as well as the return in the trade for Leonard Williams, has likely buoyed spirits. The chaotic week of the Las Vegas Raiders (the Giants’ opponents this week) may also have reminded fans what a team in turmoil truly looks like.
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