NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Giants defense has always prided itself on stopping the run.
If the running game is shut down, the opponent becomes one dimensional and the Giants’ pass rushers can make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.
So what gives?
The Eagles gashed the Giants (3-1) for 177 yards on the ground with LeSean McCoy picking up 128. The Cardinals followed by gaining 156 yards, with Beanie Wells getting 138.
“A win is a win, but we take pride in ourselves on being an all-around good defense,” safety Antrel Rolle told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts earlier this week. “That’s something that we have to fix.”
It’s not a winning formula, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin intends to take “extraordinary means” to solve the problem this week against the Seattle Seahawks (1-3).
“We really haven’t played great run defense,” defensive end Dave Tollefson said Wednesday after practice. “It’s not like it’s a personnel problem or a scheme problem. We have to play better against the run. Obviously, we won some games not playing well against the run but it’s going to come back and bite you in the butt if it doesn’t end soon. We’re working on that this week and we’ll get it taken care of.”
Tollefson said the problem in many cases is the result of players not getting in their gaps, bad tackling or even taking a bad angle going after a runner.
Wells, who ran for three touchdowns against New York, had a 39-yard run because cornerback Corey Webster seemingly took a bad angle that allowed Wells to turn the corner on a fourth-quarter drive that gave Arizona a 27-17 lead with less than six minutes to play.
Linebacker Michael Boley didn’t seem concerned, noting that the Giants have a veteran group on defense.
“We just didn’t play the run well,” said Boley, who didn’t practice on Wednesday because of swelling in his knee. “We had a lot of different situations in the game where we didn’t fit right as a defense. We didn’t have the details of our stuff right, and that in turn led to some big plays on their part.”
The surprising part of the performances the past two weeks is that the Giants played well against the run against Washington and St. Louis. The Redskins, who are sixth in the NFL in running the ball, had 74 yards on 26 carries. The Rams gained 59 yards on 19 attempts, although they played without No. 1 running back Stephen Jackson.
The Giants might catch a break this week because the Seahawks have struggled with their rushing attack. Seattle is averaging 67.5 yards, next to last in the league.
After watching videotape of the Seahawks, defensive tackle Chris Canty said they are a very physical group.
“The tape doesn’t lie,” Canty said. “Numbers sometimes lie. Just the physical level they are playing at and the commitment they have to running the ball, we have to be prepared to stop them.”
The Giants have employed a lot of nickel defenses the past two weeks to limit the big-play ability of the Eagles and Cardinals, but Rolle said having five defensive backs is not the reason those teams were able to run.
“We just have to go play ball,” he said.
Fellow safety Kenny Philips said that while the Giants would like to limit their opponents’ rushing statistics, the important thing is they are winning.
“We always want to stop the run, that’s our No. 1 goal,” he said. “The Cardinals and Eagles both had good receivers, but those teams kind of thrive on the big play. But stopping the run is something we pride ourselves on and we have to get back to it.”
Veteran safety Deon Grant, who plays in the nickel package, said the run defense has not been good enough.
“I don’t know what it is,” Grant said. “It ain’t right. That’s all I have to say. I don’t know if it’s a tackling issue, or D-line not doing their job or the linebackers not doing their job or the DBs not doing their job. Whatever it is, it is not working, so that’s one of the main focuses this week. We want to make sure we fix it from here on out.”
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul seemed to sum up the situation.
“I know we are a good run team,” he said. “We just have to prove it to everybody.”
NOTES: Defensive captain Justin Tuck, who missed last weekend’s game because of neck and groin injuries, didn’t practice Wednesday. Neither did Webster, who had an undisclosed personal issue. Center David Baas (neck) and halfback Brandon Jacobs (knee) also didn’t practice.
What do the Giants need to fix their run ‘D’? Sound off below…
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