For the second straight season, the New York Giants‘ pass rush sputtered through the year and never quite found its footing. The reason? Once again, Jason Pierre-Paul suffered through a season at less than 100 percent.
Veteran defensive end Justin Tuck saved the Giants and their pass rush from being an absolute laughingstock with a second-half surge. Tuck finished with 11 sacks on the year, his most in three seasons and five more than anyone else on the team.
Mathias Kiwanuka came in second with six sacks. As a team, the Giants recorded 34 sacks, which ranked 26th in the NFL.
Jason Pierre-Paul, New York’s X-factor, played in just 11 games and compiled only two sacks. Pierre-Paul was recovering from offseason back surgery and it seemed to affect him longer than anyone initially anticipated.
In Week 10, Pierre-Paul also suffered a shoulder injury that would eventually knock him out for the season. Although Pierre-Paul played in the following game (and returned an interception for a touchdown), it would be his last full game of the season.
Pierre-Paul’s struggles started last year. He had just 6.5 sacks compared to the 16.5 he compiled the season before. We know what he is capable of but injuries have kept him from becoming a solidified stud in the NFL.
Next season will be Pierre-Paul’s fifth in the league and he has high hopes for himself. He has already claimed that he will be unstoppable, assuming that he returns at full strength of course.
That would be good news for the G-Men, as the future of the rest of their defensive line remains in question. Both Tuck and defensive tackle Linval Joseph are free agents. The likelihood that both return are slim and the Giants have too many needs on offense to focus on their d-line in the first couple rounds of this year’s draft.
The health and status of Pierre-Paul next season will likely, once again, determine the success of New York’s once-heralded pass rush.