Coming into 2013, I thought New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck was a goner after this season. Over the last two years, he had consistently battled injuries and had recorded a total of just nine sacks over that span. Although it seemed like just yesterday he was a force to be reckoned with, those days now looked to be over for good.
Even through the first ten games of the season, I felt the same way. Tuck was putting together a solid year but his sack numbers were still down and the Giants were struggling as a result. Tuck was not the only culprit, as the whole team struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. It was the same story as last season, as a the lack of pass rush continued to hinder the defense.
And then, with a snap of the fingers, everything changed. The script was flipped and Tuck looked like his vintage self. The nine-year veteran compiled 7.5 sacks over a four-game span, including four in a victory over the Washington Redskins. When all was said and done, Tuck finished the year with 11 sacks, the most he’s had in a single season since 2010.
Simply put, Tuck proved me and the rest of his doubters wrong. He saved the pass rush from a disaster of the season. After Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka was second on the team with six just sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul was once again not healthy enough to be an impact player and that was the biggest reason for the pass rush’s struggles.
The Giants need to bring Tuck back. The status of Pierre-Paul may be in question heading into next season, Kiwanuka’s best days are clearly behind him and youngsters like Damontre Moore showed that they are not ready for an expanded defensive role.
The lack of pass rush is obviously something that has to be addressed in the offseason, however, New York cannot afford to sink all their money into one area. Pierre-Paul will be one starter and maybe the Giants draft or use free agency to bring in another starter, but none of this guaranteed.
At this point, Tuck is a very solid veteran. He’s shown that he can still start or maybe just be used in specific packages. Either way, he can be an effective pass rusher. It depends what other moves the Giants try and make, but bringing back Tuck should be one of them.