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.
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