New York Giants: Justin Tuck raves about upgraded pass rush

New York Giants, Leonard Williams
Sep 27, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) throws a pass while pressured by New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) during the first quarter of a NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants finished the 2020 season with 40 total sacks, ranking 12th in the NFL in the category. With Carter Coughlin, a seventh-round draft pick from last season, and Jabaal Sheard, a practice squad player from Jacksonville, playing significant snaps in the absence of Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, it was a miracle the Giants were so productive.

Thanks to a stout interior defense led by Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and Dalvin Tomlinson, the Giants’ defense managed to hold themselves above water until this off-season, where management felt it was necessary to add several pass rush pieces.

They let Kyler Fackrell walk in free agency, electing to bring in Ifeadi Odenigbo, Ryan Anderson, Danny Shelton, and drafted Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith.

The Giants have historically built their defense through the trenches, and they seem to be returning to their roots, according to one former great, Justin Tuck.

“Over time, the Giants have always been known for their front seven. Now, that seems to be that calling card again. You have a lot of pieces of the puzzle that I would like to see go out this year and really make a name for themselves on that defensive line,” Tuck told Big Blue Kickoff Live this week.

The New York Giants are primed to take a step forward:

With several players entering their second year in Patrick Graham’s scheme, they should take a step forward and have more success in 2021. Aside from the experience in his system, they will have a full training camp and preseason to operate with, which should provide tremendous benefits.

“They should be even more comfortable in that scheme this year, play faster, play more confident,” Tuck said. “And that allows him to do more of those things to kind of free up some people or get some other people who might not necessarily be the pass rusher that Leonard is or that me, Osi [Umenyiora] and [Michael] Strahan were. But giving them some favorable matchups that they could win some opportunities there, that’s what I think will happen this year, especially when you think about the additions that we made in the secondary. All of this stuff goes hand in hand.

Graham loves to get creative with his scheme, playing cover-1 50% of the time in 2019 with the Miami Dolphins. The addition of Adoree Jackson and solidification of the secondary will only contribute toward the pass rush’s success.

“That’s one thing with Patrick Graham, it seems like he was really good at dialing up things where guys were put in one-on-one situations. At that point, you have to win. If you don’t win, then we need to do something else.”

Graham did a phenomenal job opening up opportunities for the Giants’ better players last season, considering Leonard Williams finished with 11.5 sacks and 62 total pressures. The acquisition of Ojulari should have an immediate impact, and if the Giants can piece together a solid outside linebacker core, they could increase their sack numbers to the 50 range next season.

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