New York Giants Didn't Miss Jason Pierre-Paul
Fans and teammates may want Jason Pierre-Paul to return to the New York Giants, but the team really didn’t miss him at the end of the 2016 season.
The numbers suggest the New York Giants need to do whatever possible to bring Jason Pierre-Paul back to the club for at least the 2017 season. Leave conversations about fireworks and fingers off to the side for now. Pierre-Paul left no doubt this past fall he can still be a force on the Big Blue defensive line.
It took three games for Pierre-Paul to notch his first sack of the campaign, but he then accumulated a total of seven sacks between Sept. 25 and Nov. 27. Granted, three of those sacks occurred when Pierre-Paul was facing a horrible Cleveland Browns offensive line, but those takedowns count all the same.
Pierre-Paul didn’t finish the year anywhere close to the top of the overall sacks category. He was, however, 15th in defensive hurries (24) per SportingCharts.com. While Pierre-Paul was essentially shut down for the season after New York’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 4, every man ahead of him in defensive hurries played in 16 games.
What, then, is the problem with the Giants bringing the 28-year-old back for another season?
For starters, one has to stretch to pinpoint exactly how the Giants missed Pierre-Paul over the final month of the campaign. New York defeated the Dallas Cowboys, the best team in the division and conference, on Dec. 11 for the club’s second win of the year over its hated rival. The Giants won that game, 10-7, thanks to a stellar defensive effort and a heroic sprint made by wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
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The Giants followed that up with a 17-6 home victory over the Detroit Lions, another playoff team. Once again, it was the defense and Beckham who helped New York earn a win against once of the better sides in the NFC.
New York lost to local division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-19 on Dec. 22. That defeat occurred on Thursday Night Football when both clubs had only a few days of rest, and quarterback Eli Manning had the Giants 34 yards away from a potential game-winning score with 20 seconds left on the clock when he threw a costly interception.
The Giants, nevertheless, had nothing to play for when they traveled south to face the Washington Redskins on the first day of 2017. New York twice intercepted Kirk Cousins, who was playing for a contract and with a postseason berth on the line, and the Giants dashed the playoff hopes of the Redskins with a 19-10 win.
Dan Duggan of NJ.com argued the Giants needed Pierre-Paul on the field for the team’s playoff game versus the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
(Green Bay QB Aaron) Rodgers mostly had all day to throw, which allowed him to pick apart the Giants’ secondary. He completed 25-of-40 passes for 362 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Watching the Giants’ ineffective pass rush, it was impossible not to notice the gaping hole left by the absence of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who missed the final five games of the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery on Dec. 7.
Duggan’s not wrong, but one shouldn’t overlook the opening half of that game.
The defense of the Giants dominated Green Bay throughout the first half, as the Packers punted to end each of their first five offensive drives. New York’s offense, on the other hand, repeatedly failed Eli Manning. Both Beckham and rookie Sterling Shepard dropped what should have been sure touchdown passes, and New York twice settled for field goals before the halfway point of the second quarter.
Remove the Hail Mary that occurred on the final play of the half—a score Pierre-Paul probably wouldn’t have prevented had he been on the field—and you could argue New York should’ve held a commanding 10- or even 17-point advantage at the break.
As Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News wrote, Pierre-Paul told reporters after New York’s loss to Green Bay he has no plans of signing a one-year deal with the Giants. He shouldn’t. He, and those in his camp, know he’s worth more to some organization. That doesn’t mean the Giants should be the team to offer him what he wants.
Pierre-Paul missed a total of 12 regular season games over the past two years, and he was a spectator throughout New York’s last five contests of this past campaign for reasons that had nothing to do with a freak off-the-field accident. At this point, he is a high-reward, high-risk acquisition for any team.
Those running the Giants have roughly two months to decide if they want to use a franchise tag to keep Pierre-Paul at the negotiating table past the start of free agency. Such a decision can be made weeks after Super Bowl LI ends. Between now and then, the club must evaluate how much of an investment the defensive end is worth past the next 12 months.