Sunday, January 2, 2011
Giants defense reverting back to old ways
By Tom McKean
The New York Giants defense has been a huge letdown over the second half of this season under coordinator Perry Fewell, and for the second straight year, the Giants could be out of the playoffs after finding itself in good position earlier in the season.
Both seasons, the defense has been a big reason why. True, this season has not seen quite as much of a drop in performance on the defensive side of the ball as compared to 2009, but there are some similarities.
Last year through five games, New York led the NFL in yards per game allowed, and had held defenses to a measly 24 percent conversion rate on third downs. The Giants were also getting to the quarterback, registering 14 sacks in that span.
In the final 11 games of the year, New York allowed 40 points five times and opponents averaged 375 total yards. After a 5-0 start, the Giants found themselves 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
This year began in similar fashion. A 6-2 start had the Giants again leading the league in yards per game allowed at just 250. New York was giving up 20 points per game, a higher mark than the first five contests of 2009 (14.2), but the third down defense was again solid, allowing opponents to convert less than 30 percent of the time.
But much like 2009, the rest of the season has been a letdown. Over the past seven, foes are putting up nearly 370 yards per game and 25 points on average.
The fact that the Giants lead the NFL with 41 turnovers is certainly a significant factor this year, but the defense isn’t doing itself any favors when on the field. In the last seven games, New York has caused a three-and-out drive by the offense on just 20 percent of possessions, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NFL during that span.
Compare that to the first eight games of the year, when offenses were going three-and-out against New York 33 percent of the time, second-best in the league.
For New York to beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday, three-and-outs are key in order to give the defense some rest. Fortunately, Washington’s offense averages just 28 minutes of possession per game, which is 26th in the NFL.