Moeller: Giants’ Defense Quietly Creating Their Identity That Can Revive Old Days

The Giants’ second-half resurgence mainly has been centered around their offense.

However, the defense deserves some credit. Yes, if you look at them statistically, it may be a hard argument to win. They have ranked in the bottom third of the league all season, and this unit hasn’t conjured any comparisons to Bill Parcells’ “Big Blue Wrecking Crew” in the late 1980s and early 1990s. There aren’t any Jim Burts, Harry Carsons, or  Mark Collins to name a few.

Heading into this week’s clash with Tennessee at Met Life, the Giants’ defense  is 19th against the pass and 22nd against the run.

Instead, this unit has become more cohesive and aggressive in recent weeks, albeit a breakdown against Philadelphia.

They can solidify the first step toward creating “Wrecking Crew 2.0.”

With the loss of Landon Collins for the rest of the season, co-captain Alec Ogletree has been looking like an All-Pro in the second half after a shaky first half in which he had his issues in pass coverage.

Ogletree grabbed his fifth interception of the season against Washington last Sunday and it tied a team seasonal record for picks by a linebacker joining Jerry Hillebrand. He is fourth overall in the league and has brought back two for scores in the past five weeks.

His surging play has even gained him an eventual play or two at tight end in the upcoming weeks, a scheme he has been discussing with head coach Pat Shurmur.

It has been that kind of upbeat turnaround for defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s troops.

The Giants also have been getting the push up front, recording 13 sacks in the past three game after having just 11 in their first 10 games.

Olivier Vernon and rookie Lorezno Carter have been forming one of the league’s more formidable linebacking crews with Ogletree lately, even though Vernon likely will be released at the end of the year in a cost-cutting move.

Aside from Collins who has looked better stopping the run, Curtis Riley and Michael Thomas have emerged as an effective tandem, and Janoris Jenkins has regained his steadiness and confidence

Rookie B.J. Hill has had his share of big plays and has stepped into a lead role, gradually erasing the memories of Damon “Snacks” Harrison, who caused as much havoc in the locker room as on the field.

The defense still has a ways to go, and they are heading in the right direction, They will be a prime target for GM Dave Gettleman in the offseason.

They need to feast on Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota this Sunday like they did with Mark Sanchez last Sunday. They should, too, because the Titans aren’t the same team on the road with a 1-6 mark and an average of 16 points per game.

From there, they will have to try and corral the Colts and Cowboys, the latter possibly playing for the NFC East title.

It is just a matter of being consistent over the next three weeks. There is still room for adjustments.

Parcells’ unit wasn’t built overnight either.

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About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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