New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul certainly made an impact on the NFL last season when he recorded 16.5 sacks and 86 tackles and was named to the Pro Bowl in his second season. Today, he stood out again by proclaiming he is only halfway to reaching his potential. The mere thought that Pierre-Paul thinks he can be better must give quarterbacks around the league nightmares.
Prior to taking the field in the team’s first practice of training camp, Pierre-Paul said, “I am still improving. Trust me, I don’t know it all, I still got a lot to learn in this game of football…I am about 50 [percent]. I am still learning. That is the good thing about it. I want to come out here and learn and keep on improving.” That is downright scary.
Last season, Pierre-Paul was the only constant in the Giants pass rush. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck battled injuries throughout the season that limited their effectiveness. However, if Pierre-Paul is going to learn anything new he has excellent teachers around him. Umenyiora is one of the best in the NFL at the strip-sack, creating turnovers in the opponent’s backfield while punishing quarterbacks. Tuck is one of the best two-way defensive ends in the game, equally effective against the run as he is against the pass.
Tuck has already come out publicly and said he is looking to have a bounce back season after his neck gave him problems last season. Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell has also created packages where all three defensive ends will be on the field together, creating matchup problems with opposing offensive lines and making quarterbacks nervous.
During the playoffs last year, the Giants defense became much more effective when Tuck, Osi, and JPP were on the field. When you can rotate three Pro Bowl-caliber defensive ends in and out of the game you will have an edge over anything the offense puts in front of you.
It is easy to see why JPP thinks he is only halfway there. Look at what he was able to accomplish last season and realize he did it without a healthy Tuck and Osi. It is hard to not to believe JPP is just scratching the surface, especially since opposing offensive lines can’t double team all three of the Giants defensive ends.