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New York Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka Thrives in Return to Defensive End

November 29th, 2012 at 1:50 PM
By Casey Sherman

'Mathias Kiwanuka' photo (c) 2006, Alexa - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ The New York Giants drafted Mathias Kiwanuka out of Boston College as a defensive end, but would later convert him to linebacker to keep the best talent on the field. However, for Sunday night's beat down of the Green Bay Packers, Perry Fewell's game plan called for Kiwanuka to play on the line again, which resulted in his best game of the season. Kiwanuka finished the night with two sacks and six tackles, while keeping constant pressure on Aaron Rodgers.

"Yeah, I definitely love being down there," said Kiwanuka. "That's a big part of the reason why even when I was playing linebacker, I would still go down on most third-downs and be able to rush. That's what I do naturally.

"Whenever we can get that [pass-rusher] rotation, it kind of keeps everybody fresh and keeps that enthusiasm getting after the quarterback," he continued. "It's good, we'll see how it goes, but yeah, that was the game plan, that I was only going to be on the D-line for that week."

It appears this will only be a one week occurrence. Fewell intends to move Kiwanuka back to linebacker for Monday night's game versus the Redskins.

Meanwhile, the rotation of Kiwanuka, Tuck, Umenyiora, and Pierre-Paul proved extremely effective. They were able to hit Rodgers seven times, sacking him five times.

Additionally, the Giants were able to implement the three (and four) safety look with the return of Kenny Phillips, which seemed to confuse Rodgers, allowing the pass rushers more time to close the pocket.

"Honestly, I think that was just about heart and desire," Kiwanuka said of getting to Rodgers so many times. "We knew going into the game that was what we had to do.

"It helped that we had great coverage on the back end, too," he added. "[Michael] Boley and the rest of those linebackers were coming downhill, so I think everything just kind of played into itself."

Kiwanuka's versatility is a huge benefit for the Giants defense. During the week he has to prepare as if he is a defensive end and a linebacker, which means sitting in both meetings and participate in both positions' drills. Kiwanuka prefers to play defensive end, his natural position, but as he has done in the past, he will continue to do what the teams asks of him.

"If I'm out there helping the team, then I'm good in that spot," he said. "I said all along that defensive end is my natural position. That's where I feel most comfortable."

"I knew when I came back, I had a meeting with the GM and [Tom] Coughlin, and this is what I signed up for," Kiwanuka said. "There's going to be times when I'm used at linebacker and there will be times when they need me as a defensive lineman. I'm good as long as I feel prepared going into that game, I'll play whatever."

Kiwi goes under the radar as one of the key players on this Giants defense. Kiwanuka is an underrated player and what he brings to the table often goes over-looked.

Also…

Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Football, Kenny Phillips, Mathias Kiwanuka, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell

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27 Responses to “New York Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka Thrives in Return to Defensive End”

  1.  The Original G Man says:

    In case anyone missed this, here’s “Sights and Sounds” from the Packer game:

    http://www.giants.com/media-vault/videos/Sights-and-Sounds-Packers-Game/2406f371-f096-41b1-adb2-042b36e16d98

    The reaction by the defense to Eli trucking the defender is well worth the click.

    Tuck: “”We all hyped by it, but he better not do that again!”

  2.  The Original G Man says:

    I love, love, love Kiwi at DE!

  3.  Valid says:

    Mathias Kiwaunka is the most underrated defensive player in football. I’ve said it time and time again.

  4.  fanfor55years says:

    Anyone who doesn’t love Kiwi is nuts. The guy is immensely talented, really bright, prepared to sacrifice his stats for the good of the team, willing to play his SECOND-best position because that’s what the coaches ask of him, a shutdown linebacker against the run who has learned to cover pretty decently in pass coverage, and a model citizen. Any father would be proud to call him his son. And, oh, just by the way, he has a nose for getting to quarterbacks and will be a critical part of holding down the edge against RGIII on Monday.

  5.  GeezUp says:

    The more I watch the replays of the Packers’ game the more excited I get about us the rest of the way. Although RG3 is a playmaker, I think our Defense is primed and ready for the challenge. Quite frankly, I think they’ll put on a similar performance. As long as the offense can score TDs instead of FGs, we should be able to win this one easily.

  6.  kujo says:

    Listening to FF55 talk about Kiwi is like listening to Gruden talk about…well, anyone. It also brings to mind all the personal attacks he has levied at Barden, calling into question his character, his self-esteem and his personality. All because he isn’t all that good of a football player.

    Arbitrary and overblown? Yes.

    •  demo3356 says:

      Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Personal attacks? You mean his egoism with little to back it up? Other than that the only thing I’ve said is that the guy is a lousy wide receiver who isn’t quick enough off the line or out of his cuts to beat a decent NFL corner. Hey, feel free to disagree, but I stand by that until proven wrong.

      And as for Kiwi, the guy is a wonderful football player who is generally underrated, unselfish, and has both high character and high intelligence. That’s a pretty potent combination. I don’t say those things about many people, but when you see talent, dignity, brains and self-effacement in a person it’s worth pointing out because it’s a very rare thing in this society full of puffed up phonies and personal PR agents.

      •  kujo says:

        Slurp slurp slurp.

        Oh sorry.

        How many people in the NFL did you just describe? Hell, how many people in the WORLD have egos inversely proportionate with their actual performance? And let’s be clear–Barden is a professional football player. Most people aren’t that. Most people haven’t started a game or hauled in a touchdown. He may not be better than a depth guy, but it’s not as though he’s some bump on a log ne’r-do-well who mooches off the government cheese. He’s a smart guy who is a professional athlete. You think he’s a pr*ck? Fine. But your condemnations of him are way out of line.

        •  Krow says:

          Effing soap opera.

        •  fanfor55years says:

          Man, you are way off. I don’t know what world you live in but in mine most “high-profile” players are folks who trumpet their achievements to everyone and make claims for themselves that aren’t entirely valid and that elevate the individual above any group. Kiwi is a “star” with a classy willingness to subordinate himself to a greater good (the team) and that makes him a very admirable member of the Giants.

          And as for Barden, never have a I said he’s a “bad guy” or a p*ick or anything like that. He’s a JAG, he’s bright and personable, and he thinks a lot more highly of himself than is justified by his play. My derogatory comments about him are 99% directed at his game, not him. I’m sure he’s a decent young man. But he should shut his trap until he actually proves something.

          Some of you seem to object that I dislike him as a player. I can’t help that. I think he’s a JAG and nothing more, and do not expect the Giants to renew his contract. Hey, I hope he proves me wrong. I’ve got nothing against him. I just wish he wasn’t wasting a roster spot on this team (or that someone could give him magic pellets that will vastly increase his quickness).

          And don’t give me that bull about “he’s an NFL player”. You think I don’t know he’s a far superior athlete to me or most of those I know? But I’m judging him AS an NFL player versus his peers, and he doesn’t measure up. I suspect he’s the 6th best wide receiver on the team. And that, my friend, is a JAG, or worse.

          •  kujo says:

            To be clear, when I said you had described a vast majority of NFL players and people in general, I was referring to your statement: “You mean his egoism with little to back it up?”

  7.  NC Giant says:

    OG – Thx for posting the two videos!

    I cannot imagine having a child battle cancer…I lost my Mom to cancer about 4 years ago and I honestly could not fathom how hard it would be to go through that with your child. I echo Demo’s comments about the class of the NY Giants and even more specifically…Tom Coughlin. Stuff like this does not just happen by accident…you have to know that TC had a major role in getting that kid to practice and making it more than the standard Make a Wish trip (which is an amazing thing to begin with).

    Lots of pride in the NYG both on and especially off the field! I hope we kick the Redskins *** on MNF!

  8.  NC Giant says:

    Catching up on the last few articles…

    Regarding Kiwi…complete professional…100% class. There are not many guys like him in pro sports…I truly hope he/we find a way to retain him as a Giant until the day he retires.

    David Wilson will have an impact (positive) one on Monday night. He will be playing down the road from his former home at VT…should have some folks on hand to watch him and I think he is a “Big Stage” player. I think knowing that he will have legit time and integration into the game plan will make a difference. He will bust a big play (I simply hope there will not be a holding call when it happens). Not sure he will go for 100+ but as someone mentioned already…I think 50-75yds and a TD is certainly a realistic goal.

    Rolando McClain – I pass until he clears waivers…then I only proceed with extreme caution. Who would you jettison from the roster to make room? There is a cost to signing him as he would need to placed on the active roster which means someone has to go. All in all…no thanks.

  9.  F0XLIN says:

    who do you guys think takes the game tonight? Atl clearly the better team

  10.  Hanshi says:

    As Giants fans, do we have a favorite tonight? Will either tam losing impact the Giants?

    •  kujo says:

      On the off chance that we plummet out of the divisional lead and need a wildcard berth to get into the playoffs, it would behoove us to root for the Falcons and have the Saints, along with the Eagles, the Cowboys, the Seahawks and all the other wildcard wannabes, lose as often as possible.

    •  Samardzija says:

      When in doubt, always root against the Saints

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