The New York Giants had the worst defense in the NFL last season. They allowed the most total yards per game and the third-most points per game. Stats aside, the eye test was enough.
Steve Spagnuolo is returning as the defensive coordinator. He made his reputation as a disciple of Jim Johnson, the former defensive guru of the Philadelphia Eagles whose philosophy was based on one thing: pressure.
The Giants have always been known for pressuring the quarterback They have four Vince Lombardi trophies in the lobby of their headquarters because they put they have historically been able to put fear in the hearts of opposing QBs.
They have gotten away from that model and the results have gone according to scale. Three straight losing seasons and the lowest sack total since the sack was made an official statistic in 1982.
Currently, their top two pass-rushers, Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers, are headed for unrestricted free agency. We know Pierre-Paul's story. He has the heart of a lion and the physical ability to back it up. He also has only nine working fingers.
The Giants want him back, and based on his performance last season after he came back from the fireworks mishap, they should want him back. But is Pierre-Paul's more of an "El Cid" and inspirational-type of player, or will he be an actual contributor? And how much will the Giants have to pay to find that out?
Ayers had nine sacks in 2015, seven of which came after Pierre-Paul's return. The Giants like Ayers, but again, at what price? If Pierre-Paul is not retained, it doesn't appear that Ayers works well without him as a complement.
The Giants need a reset on their front seven. DT Johnathan Hankins is a keeper. Second-year DE Owa Odighizuwa will get a chance to prove himself, too. LB Devon Kennard can hopefully stay healthy and finally lead the defense.
In the secondary, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can serve as the key cornerback after a Pro Bowl 2015 season, and safety Landon Collins should be much better following his rookie season.
The rest needs to be filled in and augmented from the outside. GM Jerry Reese has a warchest of approximately $60 million this March. Defense wins championships. Go get one.