Most fans and analysts will look at a developing New York Giants team and say, “well damn, Eli Manning seems about as done as an overcooked T-bone.” While I would agree, the Giants will need to move on from the veteran quarterback sooner rather than later, there’s another position on the team that needs to be improved drastically.
The defense had ‘NO’ pass rush in 2018:
When looking back at the 2007 and 2011 seasons, you likely remember the dominate force that once was the Giants’ defensive line. The pass-rush and sack-totals were astounding, but that time is long gone and the roster is void of any true sack-connoisseur.
In 2018, the team recorded a total of 30 sacks, ranking 31st in the league. To add to the embarrassment, they were 24th in rushing-yards allowed (103.1). Overall, the Giants ranked 16th in overall points allowed per-game, (23.1). A major improvement from the 2017 season – 24.3 (27th).
Despite the success the defense saw in terms of lowering the points-per-game totals, the defensive front was abysmal. Rookie B.J. Hill was a bring spot and outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter flashed potential, but overall, it was a development and experience year for both. Interior lineman Dalvin Tomlinson was ‘average’ and pass-rusher Olivier Vernon was what some might call “garbage.”
In 11 games, Vernon recorded 30 tackles and seven sacks. Let’s put that into perspective. Vernon costed the Giants $17 million against the cap in 2018 with seven sacks, while the infamous JJ Watt costed the Houston Texans a mere $15 million against the cap with 16 total sacks, more than double the total of Vernon. Yikes.
What should the Giants do with the struggling pass-rusher?
Personally, I would cut Vernon and move on from his terrible contract. Thanks again Jerry Reese! GM Dave Gettleman can release him and save $11.5 million in cap-space – he will cost $8 million in cap if he’s cut, otherwise he would be $19.5 million.
With that money, the Giants can go out and sign a quality right tackle and utilize draft picks to bolster the defensive line. With the defense moving to the 3-4 scheme under James Bettcher, I would look for the Giants to go after a top edge/interior rusher that can get after the quarterback but also stop the run – a player like Eagles’ Brandon Graham would fit the bill. Ezekiel Ansah could also be a potential option, despite coming off a quiet year plagued with injury.
Ansah might accept a one-year prove it deal after recording only four sacks in a year where he played in only seven games. He’s one year removed from a 12 sack season. That type of production would be welcomes nicely to a Giants team that’s in dire need of a true pass-rusher.