The New York Giants need a step up in pass rushing this season if they want to be a competitive team. Their defense couldn’t hold in several close games and one of the big factors in that was the team finishing 31st in sacks – in a passing focused league, getting sacks can be the difference to winning and losing, and the Giants were one of the absolute worst when it came to achieving them.
The team responded to the problem partly by moving on from outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, a highly paid player who definitely didn’t live up to the expectations during his time with the Giants, not quite performing up to the expected standard during the last couple of years and also struggling with injuries… Injuries that Vernon came back to a little too slowly for the tastes of many, leaving a lot of fans dissatisfied with the player for reasons outside of just his play.
It looks like the Giants might be replacing the production of Vernon with Markus Golden, a 28 year old former Arizona Cardinal who before injury was regarded as a rising pass rusher.
After finishing third in the league in sacks in 2016 with 12.5, Golden suffered an ACL tear in 2017 and was only able to manage 2.5 sacks last year. That was enough to get the Cardinals to lose faith in him, but with few others around the team with his specific skillset, it looks like Golden is going to see significant time on the field with the Giants.
Golden, however, told reporters on Saturday that he isn’t out to prove something.
“To say, ‘prove-it,’ I would look at it as a person who hasn’t done anything yet in the league, who hasn’t made plays, who hasn’t showed themselves that they can do it. But I’ve done that. I’ve had double-digit sacks, I’ve had big games, big moments… I would just say [I’m] getting out there, getting back started up, and getting back to where I was.”
And Golden also claims that he isn’t hunting for numbers this season, either. “I wouldn’t do that. That has never been me to come out and put numbers on stuff, because it’s bigger than that. Pass rush work, up front and back — you need your teammates to do all of that.”
“You always want to get better and work harder every year. I wouldn’t dare put a number on that. I just want to come out, hit the quarterback, whether it’s a hit or whether I’m sacking them, I’m just looking forward to finally being able to hit a quarterback,” Golden added.
It looks like Golden has a very calm and measured approach to this season which might be useful while playing in the infamous New York market, known for being demanding – it’s the same market that Olivier Vernon couldn’t catch a break in while playing at the same position, after all. How will Golden do this season?
We’ll see… He has competition from Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, the last of whom has the most experience under the current system. But one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that the Giants have a chance to start fresh at the position after being uncompetitive in the sack department for multiple years in the recent past.