On Sunday, the defense was shredded by C.J. Beathard, a quarterback who had two touchdowns and four interceptions in his first four career games. The Giants defense made Beathard look like Joe Montana. Beathard was not the first quarterback to have a huge game against a porous Giants defense, and he certainly won’t be the last.
How did the Giants defense go from being an elite unit to being the laughingstock of the NFL? There are not many answers, but here is what we know:
The Defensive Line is undisciplined and ineffective
On the first play from scrimmage in their game against San Francisco, Jason Pierre-Paul had a chance to make a tackle in the backfield. Instead, he took a bad angle and ended up diving at Niners running back Carlos Hyde‘s ankles. That play was an indicator of what was to come. The Giants defense gave up 186 yards rushing to the Niners in the game. The defensive line was manhandled by San Francisco’s offensive line.
The defensive line didn’t get much of a pass rush either. They recorded zero sacks and only hit Beathard a few times. The lack of pressure doomed the defense all season long. The Giants are tied for last in the league with 13 sacks.
The Linebacking Corps is not talented enough
The Giants have not invested enough in the linebacker position in recent years. That is on general manager Jerry Reese. Every year, the Giants try to get by with a patchwork linebacking corps. Every year, they get the same terrible results.
The Giants have been gouged by opposing tight ends in recent seasons. On Sunday, they broke an NFL record by giving up a touchdown to a tight end in the tenth straight regular-season game. The streak dates back to Week 17 of last season.
To be fair to the players, the Giants linebacking corps has been ravaged by injuries this season. Starting middle linebacker B.J. Goodson has only played in five games this season. Starting outside linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard have combined to miss four games. The team has had to rely on inexperienced players such as Curtis Grant and Calvin Munson to play a lot of snaps.
The Secondary has quit
There has been dysfunction at all three levels of the Giants defense, but the secondary has been by far the most dysfunctional unit. The members of the Giants secondary have given virtually no effort on the field for the past two games. Janoris Jenkins gave poor effort on two plays that resulted in long touchdowns for San Francisco. Landon Collins has not made the impact that plays that he made a season ago. Eli Apple has whiffed on many tackle attempts and has been criticized for poor effort.
The Giants secondary has been a problem off the field as well. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins were each suspended one game for insubordination. There is speculation that one of the anonymous Giants who ripped Ben McAdoo was Eli Apple because Apple was benched earlier in the season. It’s also possible that Collins was one of the anonymous Giants who ripped McAdoo. Collins has strongly come out in support of McAdoo, which is strange because he had not really voiced his support for McAdoo before last week.
Whoever takes over for GM Jerry Reese at the end of the season will have some tough decisions to make. There are some players who have quit, such as Jenkins and Apple. Those players should not be on the roster next season. However, Jenkins is owed a lot of money over the next three seasons, and Apple was a first-round pick last year. The Giants have invested a lot of money and draft capital into those players, and the next GM will need to decide whether it is worth it to keep them.
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