COMMENTARY | The sack has become the New York Giants' calling card.
For years, Big Blue's defense has been built on its pass rush, and it has powered the team to multiple Super Bowl victories.
The Giants' philosophy hasn't changed. The G-Men will be leaning on their defensive ends to pressure the quarterback in 2013, but recent roster cuts have left the team with only five of them. Can they get the job done?
Here's a quick analysis of each one of them:
Jason Pierre-Paul -- Pierre-Paul's offseason back surgery may have been a blessing in disguise. The team's lynchpin defender played most of last season in pain, which may explain his decline in production. Pierre-Paul had 10 fewer sacks and 23 fewer solo tackles last year than the season before. A rejuvenated JPP would be a game-changer, and just what New York's defense needs to be feared again.
"I don't have that pain that I had before I had the surgery," Pierre-Paul told Giants.com. "That pain is all gone. At times, it can get sore but that's a regular thing; it's not uncommon, so I feel good about it."
Justin Tuck -- Let's be honest, Tuck is not going back to the Pro Bowl anytime soon. However, he must improve on last season's lackluster performance. Tuck had just four sacks last year, his lowest total since an injury-shortened 2006 season, and zero forced fumbles. In contrast, he had 12 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2010. Tuck's experience -- he's entering his ninth season -- and leadership are invaluable, but the team needs him to produce and stay healthy more than anything else.
Mathias Kiwanuka -- According to the Giants' official website, the versatile Kiwanuka has started 61 games -- 31 at DE and 30 at LB -- in his first seven seasons with the team. However, Kiwanuka has been moved back to his natural position of defensive end for the upcoming season. The Giants hope the switch will restore the wily veteran. Last year, he made 37 tackles, his lowest total outside of an injury-shortened 2010 season, but "Kiwi" remains a key part of the defensive unit.
Damontre Moore -- Moore, who collected 26.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, sat out most of the preseason schedule with a bruised shoulder. But he showed enormous upside in the team's first exhibition game. New York's third-round pick played the second-most snaps of any defender, made three tackles and blocked a punt against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's just say, the Giants have a long history of drafting and grooming defensive ends, including Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.
Justin Trattou -- Trattou turned in an outstanding preseason in which he tallied a team-high three sacks and made a dent on special teams. As a result, he beat out Matt Broha, Adewale Ojomo and Adrian Tracy for the final roster spot at DE (Broha and Ojomo landed on the practice squad). Trattou, who spent last season on injured reserve, was the team's highest-rated defensive in the preseason, according to calculations by ProFootballFocus.com. He's a sleeper on defense.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- New York Giants
- Justin Tuck