Photo: Bleacher Report
The 11-5 New York Football Giants travel to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, January 8.
It will be the third time in the last nine years that Big Blue’s playoff run will have to go over the “frozen tundra”. Previous trips in 2007 and 2011 resulted in victories leading up to Super Bowl championships. That the Giants are in the playoffs at all a year removed from their 6-10 record is very impressive. So, how did they do it? Well, it actually kind of came together in just a couple of hours one afternoon.
By any metric, the 2015 Giants defense was indefensible. In fact, their defense was downright offensive! Taking a deeper dive into the statistics shows that they finished the season ranked 30th in team defense (only Jacksonville and New Orleans were worse). They gave up an NFL high 299 yards per game passing, and an awful 121 yards rushing (420 yards per game). These woeful numbers attributed to the G- Men giving up the third most points in the league, (442), and an average of 28 per game. YIKES! Someone would be held accountable, right? On January 5th, 2016, head coach, Tom Coughlin stepped down/resigned/retired/was forced out (take your pick), but somehow general manager, Jerry Reese remained. Yes, the architect of this mess kept his job, but he knew the sharks were circling. So, Reese marked his calendar, and on March 9th at 4 PM, he sprang into action! First came word that the Giants and free-agent cornerback, Janoris Jenkins (St. Louis Rams) had agreed to a five-year $46 million contract ($28.8 million guaranteed). Wow, that was a big splash, but Reese was just getting started. Olivier Vernon (Miami Dolphins defensive end), was next to hit the Powerball. He also received a five-year pact, however, his was for an unbelievable $82 million ($52.5 million guaranteed). Last but not least, Reese needed someone to plug up the middle of his defensive line, and so he inked former New York Jets defensive tackle, Damon “Snacks” Harrison. His five-year $46 million deal ($24 guaranteed) will buy him all the snacks he needs. To recap, within a few short hours, Jerry Reese and the Giants handed out $193.5 million to three players, $105.3 million of which was guaranteed. This mind you, after re-signing Jason Pierre Paul just the day before for the bargain price of $10 million for one season. Add in corner, Eli Apple, chosen 10th in the NFL Draft, and voila – his defensive remake was complete.
Janoris Jenkins Photo: Giants.com, Olivier Vernon Photo: Sports on Deck, Damon Harrison Photo: Newsday
Often times in professional sports however, just throwing money at a problem does not work. In this case though, boy did it ever! The Giants defensive unit finished this season ranked 2nd in the NFL. They gave up 251 yards per game through the air, and just 89 on the ground (340 total), much improved from the previous year. Most impressively, though, was the dramatic turnaround in points allowed. In 2016, the Giants gave up just 284 total points (2nd best in the league to the New England Patriots), for an average of 18 per game. That my friends is a “GIANT” comeback! While there is still some heavy lifting yet to do, the New York Football Giants are back in the playoffs again, and the main reason for that is their defense. Take a bow, Steve Spagnuolo (defensive coordinator), your unit as a whole has performed brilliantly. Make no mistake about it Big Blue fans, the stout D whose job it will be to slow down the great Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, is undoubtedly lead by Reese’s (high priced) Pieces.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week. Go Giants!