If the Giants are going to make the playoffs in 2016, Jason Pierre-Paul will have to be a big factor. The defensive end signed a one-year deal to remain a Giant despite a chance to play elsewhere for more money.
It can be a season of redemption for Pierre-Paul, who was limited to eight games last season because of his infamous fireworks accident. “I am the player I used to be,” Pierre-Paul told the media in April. “There are just a couple of injuries here and there, but I’m okay. I want to be better than the player I was.”
The Giants would love Pierre-Paul to get back to the Pro Bowl level he played at in 2011 and 2012. The highlight of his career came in Dallas in week 14 of the 2011 season when he blocked Dan Bailey’s field-goal attempt at the end of the fourth quarter to preserve a 37-34 Giants win. In that critical matchup, Pierre-Paul became the first player to record a sack, forced fumble and blocked field goal in one game.
The 2011 season was a coming out party for Pierre-Paul. He was a bright spot on a defense that had a lot of holes during the season but fixed them in time to win the Super Bowl. The Giants haven’t made the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLVI and now Ben McAdoo is the head coach.
New York must’ve been encouraged when Pierre-Paul told reporters that he’s in the top shape of his career. “I think I’m in the best shape ever,” Pierre-Paul said. “I lost a couple of pounds. I’m lean and getting off the ball. I’m running and lifting weights, so I feel I’m in the best shape ever. I had eight games last year and I’m shooting for 16 this year.”
His career was somewhat of an afterthought last Independence Day when a fireworks accident damaged his right hand, which resulted in decision to amputate the index finger. Although competitive sports would be out of the question for most people, there is precedent. Ronnie Lott had part of his left pinky finger amputated after the 1985 season and still played through the 1994 season. Pierre-Paul wore a club on his hand last season and played for half the season. Now he’s trying to move on almost a year after the incident. “Everyone kept asking questions about it,” Pierre-Paul said. “It’s out there now and it is what it is. I’m past it and looking ahead to my future.”
Despite the injury, Pierre-Paul is still a Giant and he isn’t taking any day for granted. “I just say ‘Do what you can. You never know when your time is up.’ I missed the whole offseason last year, unfortunately. I was still working out. It would have been better for me if I were here, with getting to know the system, etc. It’s very important. I’m glad I’m here this year.”
JPP is back. The quarterbacks in the NFC East are on notice.