The New York Giants‘ defense, which displayed potential in the early part of the season, has experienced a concerning regression in recent weeks. After stringing together three impressive performances, it appeared that the defense had found their rhythm. However, their recent showings have demonstrated a significant decline, raising the question: what has caused this slump in their defensive performance?
The Giants’ defense has been regressing in recent weeks
In Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, the G-Men held the Bills and talented QB Josh Allen to just 297 yards and 14 points. This performance was followed by a stellar showing against the Washington Commanders in Week 7, where they held their division rivals to a mere seven points and 275 total yards – one of the defense’s best displays of the season. In Week 8, they suffocated the New York Jets, allowing just 13 points and 251 yards in the disappointing overtime loss.
Unfortunately, this matchup against the Jets also gave a glimpse into the upcoming challenges awaiting Big Blue’s defense. In the last 24 seconds of regulation, the defense crumbled, allowing Gang Green to pull off a 58-yard, game-tying field goal drive with no timeouts remaining.
The Giants’ defense is feeling the absence of Leonard Williams
Following this matchup, the Giants traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams, a move that likely contributed to the defense’s regression. Williams was a key anchor along the defensive line and provided both a formidable pass rush and run-stopping ability. Although his stats with Big Blue this season didn’t jump off the page, the absence of Williams’ presence has been sorely felt, as the pass rush has been largely ineffective since his departure.
In their first game without Williams in Week 9 against the Las Vegas Raiders, the G-Men found themselves trailing by a significant margin at halftime. Allowing three touchdowns, one field goal, and 240 yards in the first half was a disgraceful showing by the defense, especially because they faced inexperienced rookie QB Aidan O’Connell.
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Things have gone from bad to worse
This abysmal performance was followed by Big Blue’s worst showing yet against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. In their previous matchup with Dallas, they displayed a respectable performance, giving up only 265 yards and 27 points.
However, QB Dak Prescott dismantled their defense this time around, torching them with ease. Prescott’s impressive display included 404 passing yards, four touchdown passes, and one rushing touchdown. The Cowboys also rushed for 168 yards and three additional touchdowns, bringing them to a whopping 640 total yards.
Silver linings for the Giants’ defense
Despite this overall disappointing performance against Dallas, there was a lone positive moment for the Giants’ defense. They managed a goal-line stand on their first series when the Cowboys opted to go for it on fourth down. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari combined forces to stop RB Tony Pollard just short of the goal line, providing a brief glimpse of what this defense is capable of achieving.
CB Cor’Dale Flott also managed to snag an interception on Prescott, but the offense failed to capitalize on this crucial stop.
This has been a recurring pattern throughout the season. The Giants’ defense consistently kept the team in a position to win games, yet the offense was unable to keep them off the field and take advantage of their stops and big plays. This can be frustrating for the defensive players because the team will always somehow manage to lose, regardless of their efforts.
It is unclear whether this frustration is affecting their performance, but the defense no longer exhibits the same intensity as before.