New York Giants fans let out a collective hallelujah today when word spread that the team had inked premier free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year contract. For those living in New York/New Jersey in need of any extra incentive to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you now have it.
Before signing with the Giants, Rodgers-Cromartie was considered the most physically gifted cornerback available on the NFL free-agent market. At just 28 years of age, he is in the prime of his career. For the first time in a long time, the Giants’ defensive backfield is an area of strength. I could keep going, but the point is obvious; signing Rodgers-Cromartie just made the team a whole lot better.
In addition to bolstering their secondary, this offseason the Giants have primarily focused on rebuilding their offensive line and linebacker unit. I personally agree with the organization’s decision to focus on these positions as they were all points of weakness in 2013.
What strikes me as interesting is that the team seems content disregarding the defensive line and pass rush. In recent years, it was the pass rush that led the Giants to two Super Bowl victories. The 2007 team heavily relied on Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to ignite the defense. In 2011, Tuck, Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul led the Super Bowl champion Giants team.
This free-agency period the Giants let Tuck walk, a decision that leaves the team without much depth. Pierre-Paul is returning from a serious injury, Damontre Moore is unproven as a starter and Mathias Kiwanuka has not panned out the way the organization hoped he would.
It seems like the team’s 2014 strategy is to use a strong back seven instead of front seven to lead the defense. Instead of getting after the quarterback, the team will likely dare teams to challenge their talented secondary. Sacks won’t be the result of a bull-rush or swim move — they will be a byproduct of tight coverage.
Only time will tell if this strategy works, but after the disappointment of last year, the Giants deserve credit for changing both personnel and team philosophy in search of better results so quickly.