The New York Giants have yet to record a sack two games into the 2023 season. Furthermore, they have hardly generated any QB hurries (13), despite defensive coordinator Wink Martindale sending blitzes at the highest rate in the NFL. The Giants’ meddling pass rush is disrupting the rest of the defensive unit, too, as the secondary feels more pressure to make plays and struggles to contain opposing quarterbacks and playmakers.
The Giants’ pass rush has been nonexistent
Of the team’s 13 hurries, nine have been accredited to Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. In this time, 2022 first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux has looked all but invisible beside his opacity.
In Week 2, Thibodeaux did not record a single stat, and in 89 total snaps through two weeks, he has generated just two pressures, one QB hit, two solo tackles, and two assisted tackles.
On the other side of the line, Azeez Ojulari had a miniscule impact in Week 1, making one tackle assist. He is now struggling to get healthy, still dealing with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for Week 2.
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Dexter Lawrence seems to be the only pass-rusher stepping up to the plate
Trying to counteract their poor play is Dexter Lawrence in the middle. By far the team’s most productive pass rusher, Lawrence received an 88.1 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus over the first two weeks of the season despite not having a sack.
In 47 pass rush snaps, he has logged five hurries and four QB hits, both team-leading. If It were not for the poor edge rush, Lawrence would likely have at least two sacks so far.
Thibodeaux and Ojulari play a pivotal role in the production of Lawrence as vertical edge pressure forces quarterbacks to step up in the pocket, right into the direction of Lawrence.
The Giants’ lack of pass rush is putting pressure on the secondary
With two rookie outside cornerbacks and a recently converted slot corner, pressure is a necessity to allow the secondary to succeed, and the lack of it has shown greatly.
Allowing 68 points, over the first 2 games, quarterbacks haven’t exactly had an easy time passing against the Giants, only putting up 185 passing yards per game. However, with little pressure, teams have been able to get chunk plays with ease and get into great running situations.
This leaves opposing offenses in a dual-threat situation. They can run the ball, or design longer developing passing plays because of the lack of pressure. This leaves the Giants’ defense to pick their poison and essentially hope for the best.
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In Weeks 1 and 2, the Giants have allowed 273 rushing yards and three touchdowns, which ranks as the 26th rush defense in the NFL. Although it may not make immediate sense, the Giants’ lack of pass rush is largely responsible for their lackluster run defense and has only hindered our secondary’s performance.
In Week 3, the team is hoping for Thibedeaux and Ojulari (if he is healthy) to make a larger impact. If not, the team will need to rely on some of their rotational guys, such as Boogie Basham and Oshane Ximines. So far this year, Ximines has had the highest pass-rush grade of any edge (74.3).
If anyone on the edge can step up, it would go a long way toward improving the entire defense both against the pass and rush.