Today’s question: Do other teams still fear the New York Giants' pass rush? And will the return of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo make a difference in the way the Giants’ defense is viewed?
Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys’ commitment to their offensive line in part stems from how the Giants handled the Cowboys in key games in previous years. But Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck aren’t walking through that door. Jason Pierre-Paul remains dangerous and has given Tyron Smith some problems, but, to me, what made the Giants’ pass rush so effective was the quality of depth. They could bring guy after guy to get to the quarterback. They haven’t been able to replace those aforementioned players through the draft or free agency to maintain the consistency of pass rush. As for Spagnuolo’s return, I think it’s more about the “Jimmies and the Joes” than “the X's and O's,” for any coach. If he can coax more out of the players the Giants have, then I do think his familiarity with the Cowboys will help more than against the other teams in the division because the Cowboys are essentially running the same offense they did in his first run with the Giants.
Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Eagles: It’s hard to say the Eagles “fear” the Giants’ pass rush. They certainly respect it, but the days when Umenyiora could blow by Winston Justice for 27 sacks in a game ended when Andy Reid left. The Eagles gave up just one sack in their 27-0 shutout win over the Giants last October. The Giants got to Mark Sanchez four times in the season finale, but generally speaking, I think the Eagles’ offensive line considers itself competitive with most defensive fronts these days, including New York’s. As for Spagnuolo, his return certainly could change the equation. The Eagles went 1-3 against the Giants during Spagnuolo’s previous stint as defensive coordinator. That was Reid and Donovan McNabb, not Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford. But still, the history is the history. Kelly will have to get to work coming up with a read on Spagnuolo’s approach and finding some ways to attack it. That chess match should be fun to watch.
John Keim, Washington Redskins: I can’t imagine Spagnuolo will change the way the Giants' defense is viewed. I remember talking to people about him earlier this offseason and they were well aware of the talent he had the first time around -- and what he hasn’t done since leaving the Giants. As for the pass rush, the Giants sacked Robert Griffin III seven times in their last meeting so ... I know left tackle Trent Williams greatly respects Pierre-Paul. Improving pass protection has been an offseason focal point for the Redskins, with the drafting of tackle Brandon Scherff and the release of right guard Chris Chester. The Giants hurt Washington inside (as did others). So, feared? I don’t know. But the Redskins, after giving up 58 sacks last season (they pinned about half on quarterback indecision), should have a healthy fear of any rush.