The defense has actually been a pleasant surprise this season so it may seem a bit of a reach to write negatively about the group.
However, I’m still bothered by the strategy employed by Dave Gettleman and how it hasn’t come to fruition especially at key points in the game and specifically on the interior of the defensive line.
What the Giants Have
The Giant’s interior defensive line includes Leonard Williams (1 year 16million deal), Dalvin Tomlinson (2nd round pick), Dexter Lawrence (1st round pick) as the key cogs. There are a heavy rotation and multiple combinations that also include BJ Hill (high 3rd round pick), RJ Mcintosh (late-round pick), and Austin Johnson (former Titans 2nd round pick).
The key cogs should have our run defense as one of the top units in the league and they have actually played well for the most part.
So, what’s the issue?
My Interior Defensive Line Issues
There are several factors with investing heavily in the defensive line. Firstly, this is a passing league. It’s more and more a passing league every year. Aside from Aaron Donald who is arguably the best player in the NFL, interior defensive linemen do not impact the game very much when it comes to big plays (sacks) in the passing game. While stopping the run is important, this group hasn’t really lived up to expectations in that category either. The Steelers gained 141 yards rushing while the Bears gained 135 yards rushing.
Now, this is a team game and the offense hasn’t exactly helped out the defense by having turnovers and some short drives, but in the key moments at the end of both of these games, the Giants got completely run over. Pittsburgh was able to methodically put the game away with a strong 2nd half running and the Bears nearly put the game away with some big runs in the 4th quarter.
Another big factor is that if you have two first-round picks and a second-round pick on the defensive line, then why are they paying 65% or less of the snaps? That percentage alone I have an enormous issue with. We’re paying Leonard Williams $16 million per year and he’s on the field for 65% of the snaps? Lawrence played 60% of the snaps and Tomlinson 58%. I get that it’s early in the year and these are big guys that need some rest, but we are losing games with these guys on the sideline.
On the Bears last drive of the game, the Giants didn’t have Leonard Williams or Dexter Lawrence on the field to start the drive. The team NEEDS to get a stop and get the ball back to the offense as fast as possible. The Bears want to run the clock and get enough first downs to ice the game. Which means running the ball. And our main guys are on the sidelines? The Bears had 56 yards rushing on this final drive. Inexcusable.
My Play of the Game
Bears have the ball on their own 41-yard line. It’s 1st and 25 after a Chicago chop block penalty. There is 4:51 left in the game. Predictably Chicago hands the ball off. The Giants should see this coming. Still, the Bears pick up 23 yards. This was a game-changer.
In this particular series, the defense did well to get to Chicago to 4th down and a whacky play occurred that enabled that to be converted, but they should never have been in a position to convert on that series. When you trade a high 3rd and 5th for Leonard Williams and pay him 16 million a year, invest a 1st round pick in Dexter Lawrence, and invest a 2nd round pick in Dalvin Tomlinson you should swallow the running back whole when you really need to. If that occurred Daniel Jones gets the ball back with at least 3:49 left on the clock and the Giants have at least 1 timeout left and the 2-minute warning. Likely even more time depending on timeout usage.
What happened instead?
The Giants got the ball back with 2:02 left to play with no timeouts on their own 40 needing a touchdown. Two very different situations.
I like the players we have on the interior defensive line and it’s not their fault this game was lost. But it’s highly disappointing that we invest assets in the interior defensive line, they only play a little over half of the game, and then when the team really needs a play they don’t come through. I expect more of this group and see better things coming this season, but the investment in the interior defensive line by Dave Gettleman is one of his absolute worst attributes as a General Manager.
The philosophy NFL teams are having success with these days is investing in more important positions, that play a higher percentage of snaps in the game, and impact the passing game. Dave Gettleman strutted in here saying that you win games in this league with “big guys, hog mollies”.
So far it’s year 3 and we are the worst rushing team in the league and aren’t stopping the run, especially in key situations.
We just finished Week 2 with a new coaching staff so I’m hoping things get better, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.
I strongly feel Dave Gettleman and this organization need to get a better understanding of positional value.
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