Just how important is Jason Pierre-Paul to the New York Giants in 2014? Well, there's so much riding on him and his return to health that Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth and Football Outsiders has named him to the 2014 All-Hinge Team.
Now, you're probably saying to yourself, "what the heck is the all-hinge teams?" Well, it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect: a team comprised of key players on each team whose 2014 performance will, ultimately, make or break said team. Or, as Tanier puts it, they "just have to have the whole season riding on" them.
For Jason Pierre-Paul, that may actually be the case.
Defensive end: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants. All of the familiar faces are gone from the Giants' defensive line. All that is left is JPP, JPP's expectations, JPP's injuries and JPP's disappointments, which makes for a troubling front four. OK, that's not quite true: Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins have upside, Cullen Jenkins is disruptive in spurts and Mathias Kiwanuka is still in the Kennedy rocker telling "how our front four single-handedly beat the undefeated Patriots" stories none of the youngsters believe. Without something close to the 2011 version of JPP, the Giants will have more trouble rushing the passer than the Cowboys.
Although Tanier did forget the addition of Robert Ayers, there's no denying the reality: if JPP was a flash in the pan or can't return to health, the Giants are dangerously thin and relatively inexperienced along the defensive line and particularly at defensive end.
Sure, they have Kiwi, who has bounced back and forth from defensive end to linebacker and the aforementioned Ayers, but they both (primarily) play on the same side. After that (and Damontre Moore), what the Giants have is Kendrick Adams, Kerry Wynn, Jordan Stanton and Emmanuel Dieke — not exactly a foursome that inspires much confidence.
If the Giants wish to return to their winning ways, Jason Pierre-Paul will have to remain healthy and lead that charge. Their defensive success does, in fact, hinge on it.
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