The New York Giants’ defense has been on fire in recent weeks, headlined by the performance of DL Dexter Lawrence II. Coming off a 2022 season in which Lawrence was named a second-team All-Pro, the fifth-year interior pass-rusher has found a way to elevate his game to new heights this season.
Lawrence is having a historically great season as he dominates opposing offensive lines and continues to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL despite playing on the interior.
Dexter Lawrence turned in an elite Week 8 performance
Despite the Giants’ embarrassing loss to the Jets in Week 8, Lawrence turned in a dominant performance for Big Blue. He might not pop out on the box score, but the analytics suggest that this was arguably Lawrence’s best game of his career.
He finished the game with just one sack, three combined tackles, and one tackle for loss, but these stats do not tell the full story. Lawrence totaled 15 (!!) pressures in Week 8 with a 95.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade.
He also dominated against the run, totaling up two tackles that resulted in a defensive stop on 14 run defense snaps. It was a historically great performance from Lawrence as his 15 pressures tied PFF’s record for the most pressures in a single game by an interior defender and ranked third for the most pressures in a single game in the PFF era.
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The Giants have the most dominant nose tackle in the NFL
It is rare for interior defensive linemen to make such a tremendous impact in pass-rush — it is even more rare for nose tackles to make a pass-rushing impact.
12 of his 15 pressures in Sunday’s game came when Lawrence was aligned as a nose tackle. He had 12 pressures on 28 rushes from nose tackle against the Jets. Comparatively, the rest of the NFL had 20 pressures on 251 rushes from nose tackle this week, per PFF.
Lawrence has totaled 31 pressures this season when lined up as a nose tackle. The next-best total is just six from BJ Hill and Michael Pierce.
To put his Week 8 performance in perspective, Lawrence’s 12 pressures from the nose tackle alignment are by far the most in a game when lined up at nose tackle since 2015. The next-highest total is eight, recorded by Lawrence himself last season.
Lawrence is now tied with edge rusher Nick Bosa, the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, with 44 pressures on the season, the highest total in the NFL.
The Giants possess one of the best defensive players in the league manning the middle of their defensive line. If Lawrence continues on this trajectory, he could find himself in DPOTY conversations by the end of the season.