Throughout the offseason, we have heard countless tales of Eli Manning's heroic play and his work ethic, we know about the New York Giants devastating pass rush, and the entire fan base is excited about the young receiving core General Manager Jerry Reese has assembled. However, what we haven't heard about is how the team's secondary and newfound depth at cornerback could potentially allow for the Giants to possess one of the league's top defensive backfields.
After tearing his ACL last preseason against the Chicago Bears, cornerback Terrell Thomas has returned to the defensive backfield, and he really looking to make a statement this season. With all the credit that the pass rush gets, Terrell Thomas wants people to know that the Giants secondary is just as impactful.
“I think we’re gonna make a statement this year. I think we’re tired of being the underdog on the defense. We’re the secondary that gets blamed for everything when something doesn’t go right. They don’t understand that we’re built on our pass rush. If the pass rush isn’t there, the coverage won’t be there. The sacks and caused fumbles go to the D-line. A lot of those are coverage sacks as well, but we get no credit for it. I think we’re tired of that," Thomas said.
Last season, the Giants defense gave up an average of 255 passing yards per game, which was good for the fourth worst total in the league. Although the team played significantly better defense as the season wore on, quarterbacks like Matt Moore, Vince Young and Rex Grossman were able to orchestrate long, consistent drives against Big Blue. To put it frankly, the Giants' secondary was exposed at times throughout 2011.
Furthermore, a defensive backfield can not be completely reliant on the pass rush. Although having a pass rush like the Giants is obviously helpful, they can not be expected sack the quarterback on every play. To win in today's pass-first league, its imperative to have a secondary that is capable of playing good defense, even without pressure on the quarterback. Regardless, Terrell Thomas knows its time for the defensive backfield to step up in 2012.
“It’s time for Corey to make the Pro Bowl. It’s time for Kenny to get that recognition. And I’m ready to storm back. I think we’re excited for the challenge to prove a lot of people wrong," he said.
With Thomas' return and a more experienced Prince Amukamara on the depth chart, the team should be able to have one of the more talented defensive backfields in the league. With the dreadful performances that the secondary turned in at times last season, its hard not believe that at the very least, there will be some improvement.
However, it's still extremely early in the preseason and anything can happen. In fact, yesterday, Thomas had to leave the first practice of the year with back issues. The talent is there, but until the Giants secondary puts it all together, they are still an unproven group. They deserve credit for their play down the stretch in 2011, but for the team to have a successful 2012, consistency will be key.
The Giants can no longer afford to let mediocre teams carve up the defense. With the their brutal schedule, there is no room for the secondary to have an off game. It should be interesting to see how this group develops as the year progresses.
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