Tuesday, October 22, 2013
In-season reinforcements a Giant help
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Jon Beason couldn't find playing time with the Carolina Panthers because second-year star Luke Kuechly took his old middle linebacker job and former New York Giants Super Bowl hero Chase Blackburn was outplaying him on the outside. But when the Giants went looking for linebacker help, they found Beason available in a trade, and the two games he's played as their starting middle linebacker have been revelatory.
"He's been a godsend for us," Justin Tuck said of Beason after Monday Night's victory over the Vikings. "Just his passion for the game and his knowledge. There are so many times he sees things before they happen. He's getting guys in the right spots and he's very vocal. That leadership is something we needed."
Beason is one of several in-season additions who have made the Giants better. They are still 1-6 and hopelessly out of the playoff hunt before Halloween, but if what you want as a fan is for your team to work to fix its problems, you don't have any complaints to that effect with the Giants since the season started. Beason, fullback John Conner and running backs Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis are four players who weren't on the team in Week 1 but have contributed to the improvements the Giants have made as the season has progressed. And Tom Coughlin thinks that kind of thing has an inspirational effect on the players they already had.
"Yes, sure it does," Coughlin said Tuesday afternoon. "To be able to, in a short amount of time, complement your team and play well and contribute, it's a huge positive. I think it does breed confidence and it does breed the idea that there is something perhaps we didn't have that we now have."
Conner has been a force as a lead blocker in the run game in place of injured fullback Henry Hynoski. Jacobs rushed for 106 yards in the Week 6 loss to Chicago. Hillis, in his fifth day with the team, caught five passes for 45 yards out of the backfield Monday and rushed for more yards than the Vikings' Adrian Peterson did. But the biggest revelation has been Beason, who has brought life to a position the Giants were flat-out ignoring and taken the reins as a leader in the middle of the defense.
"I told these guys before the game, this isn't a stat week," Beason said. "I don't want any solo tackles. Everybody gets an assist. And when you do it like that, when you swarm and you make it a true team effort with everybody racing to the ball, that's how you stop a guy like Peterson."
No offense to Dan Connor or Mark Herzlich, but they just weren't getting their fellow defenders fired up and organized like this. Beason's play points up how deficient the Giants were at the linebacker position going into the season, but it also offers hope that they can put forth a more representative effort going forward.