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Saturday, February 4, 2012
Giants DE trio brings real pressure

By Marty Callinan


William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The New York Giants defense, led by defensive ends Justin Tuck (91) and Jason Pierre-Paul (90), has recorded 15 sacks in the past four games.
Earlier this week, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul claimed that Tom Brady reacted to “pressure that didn’t exist” when the Giants beat the New England Patriots back in Week 9. Brady will have to deal with real pressure Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI.

Although most teams rotate three pass rushers between two positions in passing situations, Brady will see situations when he faces all three of New York’s dangerous trio of defensive ends on the same play. Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora had played only one game together before meeting the Patriots in Week 9.

As they have spent more time on the field together, they have become a more dangerous puzzle for opposing quarterbacks to solve. Here is a look at what this group can do:

The Giants rely on their front four to get after opposing quarterbacks. They sent four or fewer pass rushers on 69.1 percent of designed pass plays through Week 16 but ramped that number up even more when Umenyiora returned from injury. From Umenyiora’s Week 17 return through the NFC Championship Game, the Giants sent four or fewer pass rushers on 82.1 percent of opponent dropbacks. No team had more sacks than the Giants (15) during that time. The three defensive ends were on the field together for 10 of those.

Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Umenyiora play together exclusively in small substitution packages (5 or more defensive backs). Small sub packages league-wide averaged a sack once every 15.6 dropbacks through conference championship weekend. The Giants are doing their part to bring that number down, sacking opponents once every 8.5 dropbacks when all three ends are on the field together (15 sacks in 128 designed pass plays).

This trio can also limit opposing quarterbacks when they have time to get off a throw. The chart to the right compares small sub packages with Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Umenyiora on the field to the league average.

The Giants cannot rely on phantom pressure to slow Brady on Sunday. If the Patriots find themselves in obvious passing situations early, look for the three defensive ends to create havoc in the New England backfield.