The Giants finally decided to place Mathias Kiwanuka on injured reserve, ending his season prematurely for the second time in four seasons.
For both Kiwanuka and the Giants, this is a big blow. This was going to be a huge season for the 2006 first-round pick. Kiwanuka was in a contract year and now he will have to prove he can recover fully from the herniated disk in his neck. As for the Giants, they will miss their most versatile defender. Kiwanuka had four sacks in just three games and played defensive end and linebacker for Perry Fewell.
However, the Giants defense has been more than fine without Kiwanuka. Osi Umenyiora had seven sacks and six forced fumbles in the first three games Kiwanuka was out.
The Giants have had success using three safeties often on the field together with Deon Grant sometimes lining up at linebacker in 4-2-5 alignments.
In the Giants' four straight wins without Kiwanuka, Fewell’s defense has allowed an average of 47 yards rushing per victory. The Giants have compiled 18 sacks during that stretch as well. The two biggest areas that Kiwanuka helps the Giants is in pass rushing and stopping the run.
Fewell said Keith Bulluck, who returned to play against Dallas after missing three straight games, will factor in more as he continues to get healthier. And there will be plenty of three-safety looks the remainder of the season.
Rookie Jason Pierre-Paul will also get more opportunities provided he can handle his special teams duties as well. Looks like Jerry Reese did the right thing in drafting Pierre-Paul with the 15th overall pick even though many wanted the general manager to take a linebacker. Remember, you can never have too many pass rushers after all.
Kiwanuka will be missed. But the last time he ended up on IR was in 2007 and the Giants survived his loss then as well.