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Defense is the Key to Giants Success for Remainder of Season

(Photo via Giants.com)

(Photo via Giants.com)

 

Giants’ fans are still on cloud nine after this past Sunday’s division victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys. They have every right to be, especially when looking at one key part of the Giants. That is the defense.

The Cowboys entered Sunday night’s game as one of the top offenses in the entire league, leaving many Giants’ fans skeptical heading into the big matchup. Throughout the game, fans witness the spectacular rise of the defense. After Dallas scored their first touchdown of the game, that’s all they were able to muster, as the Giants defense were stifling Prescott and the rest of the offense. Prescott threw two interceptions, while being sacked three times. The Giants held star wide receiver Dez Bryant to only one catch for ten yards, but it was then fumbled, leading to a Landon Collins recovery. On fourth and ten, Prescott threw a pass to Bryant which looked to be a good catch for the first down. However, after an official replay, it showed that Bryant dropped the pass due to great coverage by Janoris Jenkins.

With only three games left in the regular season, the Giants are looking to be in good position for a playoff spot. If the defense continues to play like they did this past Sunday, then I’ll be in good shape.

“I felt like there were things that were happening the game that we had done in practice to the game and that is encouraging,” said Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “It wasn’t every play. We weren’t perfect. There were things that we can clean up and we will, but there was some really good execution.”

Janoris Jenkins has emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. It showed this past Sunday when he covered Dez Bryant effectively throughout the game. His interception and forced fumble helped the Giants earn that all important W. So far this season, Jenkins has 47 combined tackles (43 solo, 4 assisted), one sack, three interceptions, and one forced fumble. Jenkins might be the underrated signing of the season and now is emerging as a top corner in the league. More importantly for him, though, is that he wants to help the Giants secure a spot in the playoffs.

“It feels good,” said Jenkins. “It gives you a chip on your shoulder to make you come and play even harder and just strive in the moment.”

“I always thought he was pretty good,” said Spagnuolo. “We like aggressive corners that press and fit what we do and thank God that it has worked out pretty good.”

Landon Collins has emerged as a prime candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. When looking back at the game film, Collins exhibits explosive speed. That speed was shown when Collins burst through the Cowboys’ coveted offensive line to lay a hard hit on Prescott, as he just released the ball. Speaking of hard hits, look back at the highlights, particularly at Collins’ hit on Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. Witten is a hard player to bring down, usually taking multiple players to take him down. Collins uses his strength to bring down Witten with a shoulder tackle with such brute force, something that is very rare to do to Witten. Collins continues to impress week in and week out, and he is only going to get better.  This is perfect timing, especially while in the midst of a playoff race.

“Just the mindset that we have, the chemistry, the determination and just knowing the defense as a whole,” said Collins. “That is what we have been doing all year and just keep showcasing that all the time and playing our ball.”

The Giants defensive line has shown that they can still be a force to be reckoned with, even without Jason Pierre-Paul in the lineup. Rookie defensive end Romeo Okwara stepped in for JPP and he made his presence felt, having eight total tackles (3 solo, 5 assisted) and one sack on Prescott. Okwara’s play has softened the blow of losing JPP for the remainder of the season.

“He did a nice job,” said Spagnuolo. “Look, the guy came up, the guys had confidence in him, we had confidence in him and he played confident in himself, which you just never know when you get thrown in that situation and the guys like Snacks and OV, they were over there encouraging him the whole game.”

“He’s a young player,” said Giants Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “…so there are going to be some ups and downs and he’s going to learn from those ups and downs and consistency is the name of the game in this league. But he’s a guy that prepares each and every week with the same amount of intensity and attack it the same…”

The additions of Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison have filled one drastic need the Giants’ have needed for the past couple of seasons. That need was the defensive line. When looking at the past two seasons, the Giants defensive line had a lot of difficulty pressuring the quarterback. With the additions of Vernon and Harrison, they have helped fix the biggest need for the Giants’, and it is working effectively. Vernon leads the Giants with eight sacks, has a total of 54 tackles (39 total, 15 assisted), and one forced fumble this season. Harrison has filled up the middle of the defensive line and boasts a spectacular 76 total tackles (47 solo, 29 assisted). The addition of Vernon and Harrison has been money well spent in helping bolster up the defense, which has been a Giants’ specialty in the franchise’s history.

“Just being consistent,” said Vernon. “That’s one thing a lot of people take pride in. Just being consistent one week at a time. That’s the main thing and basically what we’ve been doing all year.”

“The communication has gotten a whole lot better,” said Harrison. “We’re still feeling each other out. It’s getting better week by week…As the weeks gone on, guys have been getting real comfortable with each other.”

The Giants have matchups against the Detroit Lions (9-4) this Sunday, followed by the Philadelphia Eagles (5-8), and the Washington Redskins (7-5-1) in their all-important pursuit of the playoffs. As long as the defense continues to play at their impressive pace, the Giants will be playing in their first postseason in five years, something Giants fans will be looking forward to.

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