Oct 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) during the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears beat the Giants 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
No Jason Pierre-Paul
If quarterback is the most important position on offense, then defensive end (4-3) or outside linebacker (3-4) is the most critical for any defense.
In this particular case, things don’t add up very well for the Giants.
New York selected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Playing a position that never goes neglected by the Giants, Pierre-Paul didn’t disappoint.
During a rookie campaign that still saw the likes of former Giants pass-rushers Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck, Pierre-Paul didn’t get the playing time that he would in 2011. The ‘Haitian Sensation’ was good for 4.5 sacks as a rookie, but then exploded the following season.
Pierre-Paul went for 16.5 sacks in 2011, which immediately landed him in discussions about who’s the NFL’s best pass-rusher.
Those discussions were short-lived.
As the focal point of the Giants defense in 2012, Pierre-Paul ended up with only 6.5 sacks and followed up that season with just two quarterback take downs in 2013.
Pierre-Paul responded in 2014 with a much improved 12.5 sacks during a contract year and then celebrated those 12.5 sacks by finding fireworks over the 4th of July earlier this summer.
The former South Florida standout ended up suffering a sever injury while playing with fireworks and lost a good portion of his right index finger in the fallout.
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Combine this fact with the ongoing contract dispute as a result of being franchise-tagged by the Giants, and it equals a much less formidable defensive front for the Cowboys to deal with come Sunday night.
Frankly, even a healthy Pierre-Paul is generally handled pretty well by Dallas Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. Even if a new contract was in place heading into this game, I have to think that Smith could turn in a dominant performance against Pierre-Paul with a cast on his hand.
When the face of your defense is creating stories like this one from ESPNs Dan Graziano, you know that things aren’t looking good for your franchise heading into a game with a Dallas team that boasts the best young offensive line in football, period.
So, the Giants will roll with 34-year old Cullen Jenkins and 30-year old Robert Ayers. The former is the owner of just six sacks over the last two seasons with the Giants and the latter having tallied a total of 17.0 sacks – for his entire six-year career. Neither has ever racked up double-digits in quarterback take downs.
Indeed, advantage Cowboys in this phase of Sunday night’s game.
Next: Any Safeties Left Standing For Giants?