On Sunday, the New York Giants were finally eliminated from playoff contention as they failed to slow down a high-octane San Diego Chargers offense. The Chargers had their way with the Giants, racking up 388 yards of total offense en route to a 37-14 trouncing.
In the offseason, New York made sure stopping the run was a top priority. The Giants signed defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins to help bolster the defensive line, which proved to be one of the team’s biggest weaknesses the year before. The move has paid off, as the Giants have shown drastic improvements along their defensive front. New York has shut down some of the NFL‘s most lethal rushers this season, including LeSean McCoy and reigning MVP Adrian Peterson.
However, Sunday’s massacre at the hands of the Chargers proved that New York still has major improvements to be made. While the Giants have held some of the league’s elite runners in check, New York has been able to stack the box against weak opponents with poor quarterback play. On Sunday, the San Diego offense kept the Giants on their heels with their ability to move the ball through the air as well as on the ground.
The Giants had to respect Philip Rivers, who’s been lights out this season. By dropping players into the secondary, New York created more gaps upfront for San Diego’s running backs. Ryan Mathews torched the Giants defense, rushing for 103 yards and one touchdown. Little man Danny Woodhead also seemed to be unstoppable and impossible to locate as he scampered for 42 yards on just seven carries.
Facing an offense with as many threats as San Diego has showed that the Giants struggle when their defense is not zoned in on stopping one aspect of an offense. With a successful running game, Rivers was able to pick apart the Giants’ secondary, completing 21-of-28 passes for 249 yards for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
It’s not right to label the New York defense as a complete fluke just because of their recent opponents. The Giants have come a long way and should continue to get better. New York will have some decisions to make in the offseason with Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck. If they can bring back Joseph and Jason Pierre-Paul is able to come back at 100 percent, New York should be in decent shape.