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New York Giants’ Dave Merritt on Run Defense: “We Have to Get Better”

June 10th, 2013 at 6:45 AM
By Paul Tierney

It doesn't take an in-depth statistical analysis to figure out the New York Giants run defense was atrocious in 2012. Down the final stretch of the season, the Giants were dominated at the line of scrimmage and made it impossible for the team to stay competitive in several crucial matchups. But since the NFL as we know it today has transformed into a game driven by various types of numbers, we'll give you the statistics anyway.

Teams ran on the Giants on 44.19 percent of offensive snaps, but that number skyrocketed to 51.64 percent during the final three games of the season against the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants ranked 24th in the NFL in stopping the run, as the team allowed 129.1 rushing yards per game, but again, that number jumped to 154.3 yards per game in Big Blue's final three contests of 2012. The Giants finished 26th in the NFL allowing 4.6 yards per rushing attempt and interestingly enough, that number dropped to 4.2 yards per rush attempt during the last three games.

Obviously, what's done is done and there's no way to go back and amend the mistakes that transformed 2012 from a promising campaign to a painfully disappointing endeavor. But if the Giants don't get better at stopping the run next season, the team's fan base will once again be watching eight other squads compete for the Lombardi Trophy next January. Secondary coach/safeties Dave Merritt knows that the entire defensive unit is at the forefront of Big Blue's prospective chances of attaining success next year.

"We have to get better," Merritt said. "We have to play better against the run. And right at the end of the year – Atlanta and Baltimore – we had our struggles."

To say the Giants "had their struggles" is the understatement of the century. The defensive line was dominated in every facet of the game, and played like a unit that lacked the motivation to defend Big Blue's 2011 Super Bowl title.

In the offseason, the Giants addressed the interior defensive line by cutting Chris Canty, and adding Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Jonathan Hankins. At defensive end, the team has moved Mathias Kiwanuka back to full-time defensive end duties, while also bringing in Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore with its third-round draft pick.

With severe offseason restrictions on how much time players are required to spend on the field, the Giants coaching staff has several players that need to be taught how to play within defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's Tampa-2 scheme. The success or failure of 2013 will hinge upon how well the defensive line learns to play together as a cohesive unit.

photo credit: MattBritt00 via photopin cc

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Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore, Baltimore Ravens, Chris Canty, contest, Cullen Jenkins, Damontre Moore, Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl

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7 Responses to “New York Giants’ Dave Merritt on Run Defense: “We Have to Get Better””

  1.  Krow says:

    This is probably the single biggest failing from last season. A case can be made that all the other defensive troubles stemmed from this simple fact … we didn’t stop the run. Teams lit us up on the ground. And this caused a downward spiral that ruined our D.

    •  JimStoll says:

      we now know that JPP was dealing with a back issue last season; Tuck of course had a down year; Canty missed the first half recovering from surgery and when he came back he was spent; LJ just didn’t elevate; Austin never came on,; and Kuhn, who played his heart out, wnt down to injury half way through. The LBs were not good enough as a unit to step up in such a situation.

      It will be interesting to see how this year pans out. For the time being you have to write JPP off. At best, he’ll be back by opening day, but not in playing shape for several weeks thereafter; at worst, he’ll sit the year. We know Kiwi will be pretty solid. A ton of competition has been added to the DT position; what will come from that? Then there is the rest of the DE’s. Will Tuck rebound? Will Moore play right away? Will Tracy or Ojomo step up?

      How about the LB corps? Will they be any better than the units of recent memory?

      •  GOAT56 says:

        I think Canty’s injury was the linchpin. Joseph is a very good player with someone good besides him but last year without Canty there wasn’t even anyone average. Then by the time Canty came back and was reasonable healthy Joseph had wore down from having to play way too many snaps and handle consistent double teams. This allowed teams to dictate when they passed the ball much more than past years and hurt especially our early down pass rush. Plus we had no presence at DT in passing rushing situations. The Nascar package isn’t a real solution IMO, maybe one DE playing DT works but 2 makes you too small upfront over the long haul. Plus it wears dow your DEs because they get extra pounding inside.

      •  GmenMania says:

        Where did you get the idea that it was even a possibility that JPP could miss the first 8 games, nevertheless the whole season?

        There’s a good chance he’s back by Week 1, and even if he’s not, I say he misses 3 weeks at the most, and most likely only 1-2. He won’t be out for very long.

  2.  GIANTT says:

    So the LBs were adequate but the DTs last year didnt protect them enough ? Im supposing thats what the Giants were thinking . They brought in a lot of competition at DT and spent a lot less upgrading LBs even though many on here were screaming for a high draft pick at LB it doesnt seem that the Giants quite agreed with them . So to answer Jims question , the Lbs will hopefully play a lot better with more upfront protection .

  3.  GmenMania says:

    UUT

  4.  Michael A says:

    Kuhn played his heart out…where and when did this happen. was i watching the same giants team from last year. everyone wants to elevate Kuhn and Herzlich as potential saviors as they did Austin and (insert LB). Kuhn was non existent and not a factor, i don’t see him as anything but a back up

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