EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A lousy, turnover-prone offense has provided plenty of cover for the defense during this 0-6 start, but one of the most significant problems the New York Giants have is the complete lack of a pass rush. They have just five sacks in their six games this season. The only team in the league with fewer is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have just four but have only played four games. Thursday night against the Bears, the Giants didn't sack quarterback Jay Cutler once, and they were only credited with two hits on him. The significance of this as a problem is not lost on Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
"The quarterback pretty much stands back there and does what he wants to do without a lot of pressure," Coughlin said after a day spent reviewing the game film of the loss to the Bears with his players and coaches. "He can run the ball when he wants to and comes out of the pocket when he wants to. That’s two weeks in a row. He goes 24-for-36 in the passing game. He stands back there and he’s very accurate and not a lot of stuff is being contested there. We don’t get any turnovers. We don’t get any pressure on the quarterback."
The Giants' defense only works if it's getting pressure on the opposing quarterback, and when it's worked its best under Coughlin it's been able to generate that pressure with only its front four defensive linemen. But Jason Pierre-Paul, who played through a back injury last year and had back surgery in June, has just one sack in his last 13 games. Justin Tuck has just a half of a sack so far this year. Mathias Kiwanuka was the one credited with the two hits on Cutler, but he hasn't been consistently effective. Rookie Damontre Moore has been limited by injuries. The Giants' defensive tackles are doing a decent job against the run, but the defensive ends aren't doing their job and making the quarterback uncomfortable. So scheme and strategy changes may have to be considered.
"We’re going to take a hard look at that," Coughlin said. "Why is it that we are not getting home? What can be done? Perhaps we can tweak the system a little bit, be creative in some respects trying to get some things that will help us. But by and large, you've got to beat the guy who is trying to block you and we’re really not doing that."
As Coughlin mentioned, one offshoot of the lack of pressure is the lack of turnovers the Giants are collecting. You know about their league-leading 23 giveaways -- 11 more than any other team in the league so far. But they've only come up with seven takeaways, which ranks 24th in the league. Last year, the Giants had 35 takeaways, which ranked third in the league behind only Chicago and New England.
Until the Giants' defense starts forcing its opponents into more mistakes, the problems will continue.