February 5, 2017

Giants' Defense Leading the Way to Future Success

David Wingens ‘19

The New York Giants ended the 2015 season with a dismal 6-10 record and a disappointed fanbase. One year and $200 million of free agent spending later, the giants boast an 11-5 record and have comfortably clinched a wild card spot in the playoffs.
Last off-season, the Giants front office decided that they had to make changes to give them a chance of reaching the Super Bowl, especially since time is running out on 36 year old quarterback Eli Manning’s career. The Giants spent around two hundred million dollars in free agency, acquiring stars such as Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison to beef up their abysmal defense.
This approach seems to have worked, as the Giants’ defense was first in the league in red zone defense and was greatly improved from last year by all metrics.
The Giants not only bought their defense through free agency, but also spent many draft picks over the past several years trying to build a younger defense. Most notable of these recent draft picks is safety Landon Collins who was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft. Collins had a breakout sophomore season with 117 tackles, three sacks, five interceptions and a Pro Bowl nomination.
Part of what made the Giants defense so effective was their ability to play against the fast-paced West Coast offenses that have become increasingly popular. These offenses feature short, high percentage passes which the Giants defense was able to contain, allowing the second lowest opponent completion percentage in the league during a time when everything is about high completion percentages and short passes.
While the Giants’ defense carried them, their offense struggled. They were just 25th out of 32 teams in total offense, only one spot above the 4-11 New York Jets. The offense was often inefficient and relied on the defense to keep them in games.
The Giants did not have a particularly impressive, or clear-cut starting running back, and the passing game was ranked 22nd in the league. They averaged only 3.6 yards per carry, which was second worst in the league, and were ranked 26th in both total rushing yards. In addition, they had a league lowest 33 yard longest run.
The Giants met their match in the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs. The red-hot Packers were nearly unstoppable, proving too much to handle for the tough Giants defense. The Giants fell to the Packers 38-13.
The Giants made the playoffs for the first time in five years and expectations remain high going into next season. This Giants’ defense is about as good as it is going to get, and as of now, it seems that the front office’s “win now” attitude has paid off. That being said, if the Giants want to remain an elite team, they will have to greatly improve their offense, namely their running backs.
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