Giants' struggles on defense causing much concern

BY foxsports • October 10, 2011

It seems the New York Giants are coming to work on Mondays and the guys on defense are bringing up the same topics every week.

They need to do a lot better job of stopping the run. They need to do a better job of practicing. They need to play their gaps better and trust the guys next to them.

It's getting to the point where it is sounding like a broken record.

Five weeks into the season, the defense is struggling and the Giants (3-2) had better find a way to fix the problem or they are going to miss the playoffs for a third straight year.

Here's a quick look at the statistics. New York is giving up 373.4 yards in total offense with the run defense surrendering an average of 122.2 yards. The run defense has gotten worse over the past three weeks, yielding close to an average of 160 yards against Philadelphia, Arizona and Seattle.

What increases the concern is the Giants' upcoming schedule. Buffalo (4-1), which will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, is averaging almost 33 points. After the bye week and a game against winless Miami, New York will face a stretch of games against New England (4-1), San Francisco (4-1), Philadelphia (1-4), New Orleans (4-1) and Green Bay (5-0) with the common thread being they all have offenses a lot better than the Seahawks, who rolled up 424 yards in a 36-25 win on Sunday that snapped the Giants' three-game winning streak.

''I don't know,'' said Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end who has only played two games this season because of neck and groin injuries. ''A lot of times you look at the films and just shake your head as whatever the situation may be, we could have played it better or it's a combination of a lot of things.

''Teams are scheming us pretty good now, too, and I think a lot of times we forget that. But we can play better defense. We have to play better defense. That's all 11 guys.''

The Seattle used a no-huddle offense much of the game and ran 76 plays with at least 32 going for five yards or more, including 18 that went for 10 yards or more.

''It's just little things, such small things,'' veteran defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said. ''We are killing ourselves, shooting ourselves in the foot.''

One play that had Bernard shaking his head was a 47-yard run by Marshawn Lynch on a simple sweep of the right side. Somebody lost containment on the outside and a defensive back took a bad angle in trying to make the tackle. Lynch wasn't touched until he got within 5 yards of the goal line. He was pushed out on the 1 and scored on the next play.

''It's a simple play and probably should be a 1-yard gain and it goes for 50,'' Bernard said. ''We have to clean that up.''

There is no doubt that the Giants miss Tuck. He is not only an outstanding pass rusher, but he is solid against the run.

The Giants have not had any problems generating a pass rush without him, collecting 18 sacks. They had six sacks against Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, who replaced him after the starter suffered a pectoral injury on a third-quarter run.

''Yeah we had six sacks, but they played 76 snaps,'' backup defensive lineman Dave Tollefson said. ''That's six of the 76 snaps we sacked them. There are 70 other plays we have to play better on. I'm not saying we played bad on 70 of those 76 snaps, but you can't hang your hat on getting sacks.''

Stopping the run is another story. The Giants have been gashed repeatedly this season, which is something totally unexpected for a team that prides itself on running the ball and stopping the run.

''Obviously we're not ourselves,'' Tuck said. ''I don't know where that would have changed. It's obvious to say we're not running or stopping the run as in the past and that has to change if we are going to have any success this year.''

Former Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce criticized Tuck on a radio show on Monday for not playing while hurt. Tuck talked to him about it.

''I'm the captain, I need to be on the football field,'' Tuck said on a radio interview with WFAN late Monday. ''I understand what he is saying about I should be on the football field, but he should check his facts about my injury.''

Tuck missed the season opener with a neck injury and the past two games with a combination of neck and groin injuries. He felt he was going to play this past weekend but he had a setback in practice on Thursday. He was feeling better Monday and his status for Sunday is uncertain.

Whether Tuck plays, the defense needs to get better.

Tollefson said the practices have to be more precise.

''If you can't get it right in practice against the scout team, do you think you are going to get it right against guys who are getting paid a lot of money to beat you?'' he said.

Linebacker Michael Boley, who has been calling the defensive signals this season, said the defense has been inconsistent and has yet to find it's identify.

''We are still looking for that glue for us,'' he said.

Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who got extra plays at defensive end this past weekend, has not lost faith.

''When we do get everything connected and we all get on the same page and are clicking, we're a tough team to beat,'' Kiwanuka said. ''I feel like we are one of the best teams in the league when we do get everything connected. It's a matter of putting the emphasis on the right places to get it done.''


NOTES: Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee was released from a hospital Monday after being held for observation. He suffered a concussion Sunday. While he felt better, coach Tom Coughlin said he is still not 100 percent. ... Longsnapper Zak DeOssie also suffered a concussion and was sent home after being examined by the team's medical staff Monday. ... RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and C David Baas (stinger) sat out Sunday and said they felt better than last week.

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