The New York Giants‘ offense has stole the headlines in the Big Apple this preseason, and not for the right reasons. The fact is, the offense’s lingering struggles have overshadowed a few other areas where the Giants are still struggling, one of which is the pass rush.
The Giants knew they were going to need much-improved performances from Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka this year after losing veteran, and leader, Justin Tuck in free agency this offseason. While both Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka have looked better than they did in 2013, there is still a long way to go.
Through the first three preseason games, Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka have a combined zero sacks. They have generated decent pressure at times but cannot seem to finish plays off. There have been times when they have forced quick throws and flushed opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket but the pressure has to be more consistent.
A struggling pass rush puts a defense into a tight spot and forces the secondary to cover receivers longer than they should have to. While it’s way too early to hit the panic button, New York needs to see some production from their starters.
The Giants are also going to need contributions from second-year defensive end Damontre Moore and recent acquisition Robert Ayers.
Moore, a 2013 third-round pick out of Texas A&M, was electric on special teams as a rookie last year but did little to nothing in his limited time on defense.
However, this offseason Moore has earned the praise of his coaches and teammates and has shown drastic strides while lined up as a defensive end. In the preseason thus far, Moore has recorded two sacks. Although he has played against second stringers for the most part, Moore has displayed a higher level of play and explosiveness.
New York signed Ayers during free agency, after he played the first five years of his career with the Denver Broncos. Ayers has spent time lined up everywhere along New York’s defensive line this offseason. He had a career-high 5.5 sacks a year ago and the Giants will need him to build on that this season.
The preseason is always a time for over-analysis and the Giants have been no exception. At this point, the slow transformation of the offense has to be the biggest concern, but keep an eye on the pass rush as New York continues to adjust to life without Justin Tuck.