By Steve Silverman
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Now we know what the problem was last year.
For all the things that went wrong last year for the New York Giants, one of the biggest was not having the pass rush that helped them win the Super Bowl the year before.
When you are talking about rushing the passer in New York, you are talking about Jason Pierre-Paul. When the Giants won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2011 season, it was because Pierre-Paul was marauding his way through the NFC East and postseason opponents with overwhelming speed and power.
He had 16.5 sacks and was the dominant player on a very effective Giants defense.
But that was not the case last year. As the Giants slipped in the second half of the season, the Giants’ weakness was a secondary that gave up big plays and points when head coach Tom Coughlin needed decisive playmaking.
As bad as the secondary was — the Giants ranked 28th in passing yards allowed – it was no surprise that the group was vulnerable.
The Giants’ secondary wasn’t great when they defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But they had a pass rush that was ferocious and registered 48.0 sacks. They didn’t have that element last year, as the sack total fall to 33.0.
Pierre-Paul saw his sack total slip to 6.5. If anything, his sack total should have been climbing. Pierre-Paul, 24, should be approaching the prime of his career. He should have at least five more years before his numbers start to decline.
Pierre-Paul underwent back surgery. He had spasms during the season and there is every chance that surgery will alleviate the problem and he will be ready to play by the time the season starts in September.
Back surgery can be complicated, but advancements have been made in recent years. It was revealed that Pierre-Paul received epidurals during the season.
Those epidurals did not bring Pierre-Paul any relief. If Pierre-Paul has a lumbar disc problem, surgery would be the next step after epidural treatment and rest.
If the surgery goes well, Pierre-Paul will once again become a speedster who can turn the corner. A double-digit sack season would go a long way toward returning the Giants to the postseason next season and getting Pierre-Paul back on track to having a memorable career.
No matter what Pierre-Paul does with his career, it’s unlikely he will ever have the kind of impact that Deacon Jones had with the Los Angeles Rams.
Jones, known as the Secretary of Defense when he anchored the Fearsome Foursome in the 1960s, was simply the greatest pass rusher the game has ever known.
Jones died on Monday at the age of 74. He played with a mean streak and an edge on the field, but he truly loved his sport and having an impact of the game.
Jones was drafted in 1961 with the 186th pick in the NFL Draft. That was in the 14th round. He played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State and South Carolina State, and he was simply a wrecking crew.
The Rams became formidable when they added defensive end Rosey Grier in a trade with the Giants. That allowed Jones to team with Grier, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy to form one of the great pass-rush units in the history of the NFL.
Jones is the man who invented the term “sack.” Always quick-witted, Jones said he wanted to sack the quarterback the way “warriors sacked the city.”
The late Hall of Fame coach George Allen called Jones the best defensive player in the history of the game.
When I wrote Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football in 2009, I had the chance to talk to Jones and others who played with him and against him. He was fearsome on the field and an honest gentleman off of it.
He knew he was one of the game’s greats and he wasn’t afraid to say so. However, he also knew that he was lucky to have the chance to play a game that meant so much to him.
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