Friday, February 4, 2011
Final report card: Defensive line
By Ohm Youngmisuk
We’re taking a look back and delivering our final grades for the 2010 season. We will be grading position by position and final season awards and accolades such as MVPs and Most Improved in the Giants blog over the next few weeks.
Without a doubt, the strength of the team was the defensive line. Justin Tuckand Osi Umenyioraterrorized quarterbacks as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell unleashed his athletic defensive ends in his first season.
Umenyiora and Tuck both had 11.5 sacks and Umenyiora tied an NFL record with 10 forced fumbles. Tuck recovered five fumbles. And it’s scary to think that this unit wasn’t even at full strength since Mathias Kiwanuka played in just four games due to a season-ending neck injury. Kiwanuka had four sacks moving back and forth from defensive end to linebacker before having to sit out the last 12 games.
In his absence, rookie Jason Pierre-Paulemerged and validated GM Jerry Reese’s decision to take him 15th overall instead of a linebacker. Pierre-Paul had 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles as a backup. The raw defensive end virtually has an unlimited ceiling for potential and he was a standout on special teams.
Backup defensive endDave Tollefsonalso saw some action in a limited role.
2011 FORECAST: The Giants have a decision to make whether to re-sign Kiwanuka if he is cleared to play again. Reese said he could offer Kiwanuka a one-year deal to re-establish his worth. Prior to his injury, he was the defense’s most versatile player.
Umenyiora was sensational as he returned to his old form prior to his knee surgery a few years back. And he battled through an aching hip and knee pain this season. He underwent offseason surgery on the hip but is expected to be ready for camp.
Cofield will be a free agent and wants to return but at what price? He is a good presence in the locker room so bringing him back would be a bonus. Still, the Giants eventually have to find more playing time for Joseph. Same goes for Pierre-Paul.