“Why doesn’t this team draft a linebacker?”
That is a familiar refrain every Giants’ fan says every April, when New York Giants’ General Manager Jerry Reese often bypasses on drafting linebackers. Instead, Reese follows the mantra of picking the best player available.
While that line of thinking has paid off in many respects (hey, who could argue with two Super Bowl championships in six years), the Giants have never been able to bolster this unit from within the organization. Now that Michael Boley is gone, this is a unit that has a lot to prove, with options at the position that are all-too not exciting.
The Giants have drafted (or signed after the draft) some solid linebackers in the last few years, but none are game changers. These names include Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger.
Those names are bandied together with some retreads at linebacker that the Giants have acquired over the years, like Keith Rivers, Aaron Curry, Dan Connor and Kyle Bosworth. On Sunday night, it was announced that Curry has been released.
This current group of linebackers are a very uninspiring unit to say the least. They play soft; are not that aggressive and are poor at some of the basic fundamentals (especially tackling) of football. Perry Fewell’s job as defensive coordinator is that much harder when dealing with such a lackluster corps.
Quotes from Giants.com
“I think we’re working together as a linebacking corps very well,” said Fewell on August 13. “There is no standout. I think they worked together well as a group. I like the combinations that we use in practice and that we’ve used in the game and I hope we can continue to grow and build in that respect.”
I think Fewell is just trying to put a positive spin on things. There is no way he could be happy with this unit. For the Giants to be successful this year, it has to get the most out of its defense. With injuries in the secondary (Stevie Brown, Antrel Rolle) and on the line (Jason Pierre-Paul), the linebacking corps is susceptible to being exposed.
So, someone has to take this unit to task, as the play so far in the preseason is not exactly ensuring anybody’s confidence. The Giants have roughly two weeks to get this group in gear.
Will that be enough time?
Perhaps what you might see, is the Giants look for help at linebacker after every team gets down to its 53-man roster.
Clearly what we have is not working.
Dan Stack | Featured Columnist