New England Patriot fans worldwide were worried that the 8-0 season was about to show a “1” in the loss column. After all, these were the NY Giants that ripped the heart out of fans in two Super Bowls as Eli Manning outperformed Tom Brady…they were kryptonite to Superman. Hell, the ‘Gints were the only team in the NFL the Patriots hadn’t beat since 2008!
With the game played in MetLife Stadium, the Patriots offensive line still in shuffle stage and JasonPierre-Paul confident he’d get to Brady to disrupt New England’s high-powered offense, an upset looked to be a given. Add in OdellBeckhams: ‘I’ve loved-hated the Patriots’ statement and you had the perfect setting for fans of the NY Giants…and then they started the game! It lived up to all the hype, as the final quarter determined the winner on the last possession as the clock ticked down. Patriots 27-Giants 26.
Scoring Streak Extended – First Quarter
Losing the coin toss (what’s going on here?) didn’t slow down the Patriots scoring streak as they drove 78 yards and ran off 14 plays in 8 minutes 25 seconds the first time they had the ball…culminating in a 1 yard TD pass to Scott Chandler. Split with 8 runs (including a 10 yarder by Tom Brady) and 6 passes, the TD extended New England’s scoring streak to 32 straight quarters, an NFL record.
It didn’t take Eli Manning and the Giants long to knot things up as the New York QB connected on an 87 yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who beat Malcolm Butler in single coverage as he scampered into the end-zone untouched. It was the longest offensive play ever against a Bill Belichick coached team.
After all the fireworks opening the game, things settled town with both teams going 3 and out before the Patriots took over on their 30 yard line with 3:29 left in the quarter. Following a short run by LeGarrette Blount, a 30 yard pass to Julian Edelman moved New England into NY territory as the quarter came to an end.
Another Quarter – Another Score
Edelman limped off the field with a broken bone in his foot, putting a big crimp in an already struggling offense. 3rd and 4 from the 8 yard line brought pressure up the middle, bringing Brady down with the 1st sack of the game. Stephen Gostkowski kept his perfect season alive with a 31 yard field goal, moving him into a tie for the most FGs in Patriot history and putting the Pats up 10-7.
The Giants proceeded to march down the field on their next possession before Manning was strip sacked by NFL sack leader Chandler Jones (10 1/2) and the ball was recovered by Justin Coleman at the Pats 16. With Edelman out of the game and the season long loss of Dion Lewis, the New England offense was stuffed. A critical Rob Gronkowski offensive pass interference call eliminated a 1st down and the Patriots were forced to punt from deep in their own end of the field.
After a 51 yard punt and an 11 yard run back the Giants had great field position on their own 46. After their drive stalled at the Patriot 19, Josh Brown hit his 19th straight field goal and the game was knotted at 10-10.
Reuben Randle grabbed a 31 yard pass from Manning at the Patriots 43 with a minute left in the half. Manning completed his 18th pass of the game to TE Will Tye and he rumbled to the 1 yard line. With 18 seconds left Eli lobbed a TD to a wide open Dwayne Harris and the Giants took at 17-10 lead into the second half.
Tom Brady vs Eli Manning
Manning had the most 1st half yardage of his career (251 yards) while completing 12 of 20 passes with two TDs. Brady, meanwhile, went 14-21 for 127 yards and 1 TD. History was rearing its ugly head as the Giants looked to continue foiling any bid New England had for a perfect season.
The Streaks Continue In The Second Half
The Giants received the 2nd half kick-off and once again exploited the Patriots secondary, including an interference call against Patrick Chung and another (highly questionable) by Malcolm Butler. The drive ended in a 38 yard FG by Brown (21 of 21) stretching the lead to 20-10, the largest deficit New England had faced this season.
Danny Amendola had a spectacular 82 yard punt return on their second possession of the second half as he brought the ball to the Giants 7 yard line. He was tripped up by a Patriot or would have had a TD. Blount ran it in from the 1 and the game got closer as the Patriots stretched their scoring streak to 34 quarters. Giants 20-Patriots 17
Josh Brown followed with a 53 yard FG, his 22nd of the season, putting the Giants up by 6, 23-17 as the 3rd quarter wound down.
Brady Turns The Ball Over
The Giants returned the favor they gave up in the 1st quarter with a strip-sack fumble of their own by Jasper Brinkley at the New England 39, but couldn’t capitalize on the turnover. The Patriots defense stepped up, led by a Rob Ninkovich sack, and forced the Giants to punt keeping the game within one score.
The stop looked to be the turning point of the game, as the Patriots took over after the punt deep in their own territory. Gronk stepped up and caught the longest pass of his career with a 76 yard TD. The extra-point was good and suddenly New England was ahead 24-23.
With the win staring them in the eyes, Tom Brady made his 3rd mistake of the quarter with a fatal interception at the Giants 1 yard line. Manning had his chance once again to stick a dagger in the heart of Patriot fans…and he did just that. On a 3rd and 3 he hit a wide open Harris for 30 yards at the Patriots 28…well within Brown’s range.
Another Manning to Harris pass put the ball at the Pats 5 with just over 2:00 left in the game. The Patriots caught a break when what was originally called a TD pass to Beckham was overturned on replay as Butler batted the ball out of his hands before he could establish possession. Brown kicked a 29 yarder with 1:47 remaining in the game and, once again, it would be a final possession game!
Needing a FG to win and under 2:00 to go with no time outs the pressure was on. Brady, who lives for these opportunities, was almost intercepted again but the ball hit the ground. Super Tom completed critical passes putting the Patriots at the Giant 37 with :06 left. Gostkowski was on the spot for a 54 yard game winning kick as NY called time out. The kick was good with 1 second left on the clock…and the Patriots remained undefeated, pulling out a hard fought 27-26 win.
After the game Brady commented “It always comes down to the end against them”
Although he was victimized by Beckham on the Giants 1st possession, Malcolm Butler played a solid game. His pass interference penalty was a bad call and he made a great play when he knocked the ball out of Beckham’s hands in the end zone in the 4th quarter.
The Giants came into the game with the worst TE defense in the NFL. They had done a decent job on both Gronkowski & Chandler until giving up the 76 yard TD in the 4th quarter
The Patriots entered the game as the least penalized secondary in the NFL, yet had 3 big interference calls
Brady fumbled twice and had an interception in the 4th quarter. The Patriots fortunately recovered his second fumble with over 9 minutes left in the game. That fumble was followed shortly by a 54 yard completion to Brandon LaFell at the Giants 15. His interception (3rd of year) came as the Patriots were looking to put the game away when Trumaine McBride picked him off at the 1 yard line with under 5 minutes to go
New York was 1 for 5 on TD attempts in the red zone
Jason Pierre-Paul had his 1st sack of the season called back on a hands-to-the-facemask call in the 4th quarter
The game ended with the Giants recovering a short kick and trying to pull off the miracle win as they shoveled the ball player-to-player before finally stepping out of bounds.
Well, as hard as it may be to believe, we’ve reached the halfway point of the regular season…and the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are 8-0 and have already run away and hid from their AFC East foes.
As far as games go, the always troublesome NY Giants are next in line for a Sunday afternoon joust in mid-November. That’s set in stone. The Giants have spoiled perfect seasons in the past and most of Patriot Nation will never forgive them. This is a new year, with both teams having rotated most of their roster, but the anger is still there. Hell hath no fury like a Patriot fan scorned as Eli Manning and Tom Brady square off once again.
Talking about things you don’t talk about
When you talk about teams in the NFL, it’s usually a good thing when you don’t mention their offensive line. I mean, come on, talk about boring. The less you hear about them the better, ’cause it means they are playing well, that’s a given. Much is written about the glamour positions – QB, WR, TE, RB, DE…hell even CB’s!
But what about those guys down in the trenches? You know, the lunch bucket crew. The hard hats. Without looking it up most fans cannot name 10 offensive linemen from all the other teams in the NFL. My old Patriots Beat partner, Jeff Kane, is the exception, but he’s strange that way! And that group of grunts (I say that with affection) actually like it like that. They are happy just doing their job, heading home for a nice cool one (or two or three) and enjoying their anonymity.
Saying that, it’s impossible to talk about the Patriots’ success in 2015 without mentioning the turmoil that continues to occur every game with the biggest surprise of this year (no, not Dion Lewis, but he sure will be missed) – the unbelievable success of the no names in front of Tom Brady. They started the season without some big cogs in the machine that is in charge of protecting the life of the best QB in the history of the NFL, and it got worse week by week.
Who’s next up in the revolving door that is the offensive line?
So, let’s see who is next in line, as the names keep changing, but the results remain the same. The original front five were expected to be chosen from this group (in alphabetical order):
David Andrews, Chris Barker, Marcus Cannon, Blaine Clausell, Dan Connelly, Cameron Fleming, Tre Jackson, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Nate Solder, Bryan Stork, Sebastian Vollmer & Ryan Wendell.
That’s a hearty mixture of 14 (as in fourteen) young and old bodies that should allow Bill Belichick to pick the chosen few for his game day roster each week, right? So, what’s the problem? Well, as the Patriots prepare for the Giants the majority of the names above have fallen aside, either through retirement (Connolly) or injury (Solder, Vollmer, Wendell to name the most obvious) leaving the available list mighty slim.
The team went into last Sunday’s game dressing six offensive lineman and by the end of the game the number had dwindled to five!
Yes, you read that right. Once Vollmer went out with a head injury, the Patriots had no available back-ups to protect (gulp) Tom Brady. You wonder why they went to the running game early in the second half and now you know. Thank God TEs Rob Gronkowski and Michael Williams are both solid blockers and LeGarrette Blount is a horse or we could be praying for Tom Brady’s recovery right now.
Based on all the injuries, rookies and the retirement of Connolly you would expect Brady to be getting pummeled in every game, but it just ain’t so my friends. The fastest gun in the NFL has been sacked 18 times while running 537 plays. Sure, we all cringe as the bodies fly around him each week and, heaven forbid, he throw an interception and foolishly decide it’s his job to bring down the interceptor…because in all honesty, he is the franchise.
Salute To The Hard Hats
So, it’s time for fans to step up and salute those unheralded hard hats that give up their bodies each week so that Mr. Brady can continue, at the “old” age of 38, with his best season ever in the NFL. The offensive line has done it with smoke and mirrors, along with great coaching by Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo in his second season, after the retirement of longtime Patriots coach Dante Scarnecchia.
It’s not a pretty job, but someone has to do it (how’s that for original journalism) as the next in line steps up in the quest for another Super Bowl.
Before last year with Darrelle Revis and the early 2000s with Ty Law the Patriots pass defense has tended to struggle and lacked a true shutdown corner. With Revis leaving New England and returning to the New York Jets the Patriots may again go into the 2015 season without a shutdown corner. Last season, New England ranked 17th in pass defense but the numbers didn’t really show how good and effective the Patriots secondary and defense as a whole was in 2015, with the Patriots often leading early in games and by a good margin teams were forced to throw the ball the whole game. Lets take a look at the Patriots pass defense throughout the Belichick era both with and without a shutdown corner and what we could expect to see out of this years defense.
In Belichick’s first year as coach the team ranked 21st in pass defense allowing 220 passing yards per game. The league wasn’t as big of a passing league at the time compared to how it is now. The secondary was lead by cornerback Ty Law and safety Lawyer Milloy who each led the team in interceptions with two a piece during the teams disappointing 5-11 season. The team also ranked 21st in rush defense, which is a compelling reason why the team finished at 5-11 with a poor pass and rush defense.
The following season is one all pats fans will remember, the year the franchise won its first Super Bowl championship, the year our franchise quarterback took the realms and the dynasty in New England started. That year the Patriots ranked 24th in pass defense but allowed less yards per game than it did the year before allowing 218 yards per game. Again, the league was more run oriented compared to the way the NFL is today. The team was again lead in the secondary by Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy and despite the low ranking in pass defense allowed less yards than the year before and had 22 interceptions as a team, returning 5 for touchdowns. The high interception total showed how with a top safety and corner the team was able to be more aggressive in play making.
The Patriots suffered a Super Bowl hangover in the 2002 season missing the playoffs for one of the three times in the Belichick era. Despite not making the playoffs the teams pass defense increased tremendously improving to the 11th ranked pass defense in the league allowing 198 yards per game. Where the Patriots increased in pass defense they decreased in rush defense ranking 31st in the league allowing 137 yards per game.
The Patriots secondary had a new look to it in the 2003 season compared to the seasons before. Veteran safety Rodney Harrison and cornerback Tyrone Poole both signed with the team in the offseason, drafting safety Eugene Wilson in the second round, cornerback Asante Samuel in the 4th round and releasing veteran safety Lawyer Milloy prior to the start of the season. Milloy signed with division rival Buffalo Bills and started off the year by beating the Patriots 31-0, which I’m sure made the Patriots question their decision to release Milloy. The team ended up ranking 15th in pass defense at the end of the year allowing 202 yards per game. The teams run defense had a huge improvement from the year ranking 4th in rushing yards allowing only 86 yards per game. Behind the teams strong defense the team went on to win their second Super Bowl in three years.
2004 was a tough season for the Patriots secondary suffering many injuries, which forced wide receiver Troy Brown to the defensive side of the ball to play corner. Brown played well and better than I and I’m sure most people expected and was the model of the “Patriot Way”, doing anything you can to win. Brown ended up finishing tied second on the team in interceptions with 3, with his first coming against former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The only member of the secondary to play in all 16 regular season games was safety Rodney Harrison. The team ranked 17th in pass defense allowing 212 yards per game despite all the injuries and went on to win their third Super Bowl ring in four years and started the Patriots dynasty.
Veteran cornerback Ty Law left the team in free agency, which made the Patriots bolster a new look secondary for the 2005 season without Law. Without Law the teams secondary struggled ranking 31st in the league in pass defense allowing 231 yards per game. The teams rush defense also struggled in 2005 ranking 25th in run defense. With Law leaving in free agency the Patriots struggled with not having a true shutdown corner despite Asante Samuel playing well and molding into a future number one corner.
After the defensive struggle in 2005, the team improved in both pass and rush defense ranking 12th in pass defense and 5th in run defense in 2006. The defense was led by corner Asante Samuel who had 10 interceptions on the year and became a dangerous threat for opposing quarterbacks to throw at and taking away one side of the field. Injuries again hit the Patriots secondary in the 2006 season with a variety of injuries to multiple members of the defense.
The Patriots had their famous 16-0 Regular Season and rewriting the whole record book while doing so. With Tom Brady and the offense setting new records every week and gaining the majority of the attention, the Patriots defense had one of if not their best defense statistically in the Belichick era. The team ranked 6th in passing allowing 190 yards per game and the run defense ranking 10th allowing 98 yards per game. Harrison and Samuel were again leaders of the New England secondary. Sadly what this team will be remembered for will be for falling just short of the perfect season with their only loss coming against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. As well as the defense played all year they struggled in the Super Bowl against the Giants. The defense as a whole struggled and the offense didn’t play as well as they did all year long. If it also wasn’t for a miracle helmet catch by Giants receiver David Tyree the Patriots may have ended up winning the Super Bowl and completing the “perfect season”.
Coming off a devastating loss in the Super Bowl the Patriots were looking to return and were the early season favorites to win the Super Bowl in 2008. Then quarterback Tom Brady went down in the first quarter of week 1 with a torn ACL and MCL. The offense was now set to look different without their MVP quarterback. In free agency that year cornerback Asante Samuel left New England to join the Philadelphia Eagles. Safety Rodney Harrison only played in 6 games before being injured and out for the year. The defense was now led by rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo and 2nd year safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerbacks Deltha O’Neil (who was terrible at this point in his career), the inconsistent Ellis Hobbs and Jonathan Wilhite. With all the injuries and lack of a true number one corner the Patriots defense was better than ultimately expected. The defense ranked 11th in passing allowing 201 yards per game and 15th in defense allowing 107 yards per game. Even with the multitude of injuries on both side of the ball the team still finished at 10-6 but missed the playoffs after the Jets lost in week 17 to the Dolphins, which sent Miami to the playoffs. This helped show how great of a coach Bill Belichick is, doing as good as he did with the amount of injuries the team had and after losing arguably its best defensive player in free agency and still play well.
Veterans Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison retired prior to the 2009 season, which left New England with a loss of leadership and two key members of the teams defense, as well as trading star defensive lineman Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders. The team was also playing with Leigh Bodden, Jonathan Wilhite and Shawn Springs at cornerback, which is not very good to say the least. Wilhite struggled since the time he was drafted and Springs and Bodden were older veterans that were past their prime and weren’t nearly as productive as the team was hoping they would be when signed in free agency. Despite the lack of star power, especially in the secondary the team wasn’t too bad as a whole on defense ranking 12th in passing allowing 210 yards per game and ranking 13th in run defense allowing 110 yards per game. Again this showed that Belichick doesn’t need a “star” corner to lead his team.
The Patriots 2010 defense was ugly to say the least. The team ranked 30th in pass defense allowing 259 yards per game. One bright spot was rookie cornerback Devin McCourty, who had 7 interceptions on the year and looked like he could be the shut down corner New England was missing the past few seasons. Despite the terrible pass defense the team played fairly well against the run ranking 11th in the league allowing 108 yards per game.
New year, same problems, the 2011 Patriots were again TERRIBLE against the pass ranking 31st in the league allowing 293 yards per game. It was ugly to watch, I remember watching the game against the Peyton Manningless Indianapolis Colts and Dan Orloksky was at quarterback and they just kept driving up the field and scoring. I remember my dad and I yelling at the TV and asking each other “are we really going to lose to the f***ing Colts?” before he threw the TV remote at the ground and broke it out of anger. The lone bright spot from the year before, Devin McCourty had a huge sophomore slump and couldn’t have covered me if I was out on the field. The defense was so bad andlacked depth that wide receivers Julian Edelman and matthew Slater were both playing in the secondary, and were playing better than just about all the other members of the secondary. New England played in way too many shoot-outs and close games this season. The offense would get up big to start the game and then the defense would play a prevent zone and just couldn’t stop anybody, it was painful to watch. Despite the terrible defense the Patriots still made it to the Super Bowl after a heroic pass deflection by Sterling Moore and a shanked Billy Cundiff field goal in the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. New England again went onto lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl after a Wes Welker drop that would have sealed the victory for New England and another lucky pass by Eli Manning where his receiver again made an amazing catch bailing out Manning.
Yet again New England’s secondary struggled against the pass in 2012. Devin McCourty continued to struggle at cornerback, which prompted the team to move him to safety, where he has played great since, and make a mid-season trade for cornerback Aqib Talib. Adding Talib was huge for New England giving them a true number one cornerback and someone who could take away an opposing teams top receiver. Despite the acquisition of Talib the Patriots still ranked 29th in pass defense allowing 271 yards per game. If Talib was never acquired the rankings surely would have been lower. Talib was good during his time in New England besides constantly being banged up, especially in the big games. The Patriots ended up losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship after a Talib injury sidelined him and forced Devin McCourty back to corner halfway through the game and forcing Kyle Arrington, a slot corner, to cover wide receiver Torrey Smith, a speedy deep threat.
With having a full season of Aqib Talib the Patriots pass defense improved drastically ranking 18th in the league allowing 239 yards per game. With Talib at corner allowed McCourty to play the center fielder role and roam around the secondary. Talib played like the top corner in the NFL for most of the 2013 season. Another bright spot for New England’s defense was rookie cornerback Logan Ryan. Ryan led the team with 5 interceptions and showed a lot of promise for the future as a playmaker and potentially improving into a number one corner for the Patriots. Talib was again injured during the AFC Championship game against the Denver Broncos and the Patriots went on to lose to the Broncos and be eliminated from the playoffs.
And lastly we have last years 2014 pass defense. Last years pass defense was great and the best that I have seen and can remember the Patriots having. Darrelle Revis was, well Darrelle Revis, he shut down any receiver he was matched up against. Brandon Browner provided the physicality and swagger that the defense needed, always giving big hits and being physical with the receiver he was matched up against even if it would draw the occasional pass interference call. Kyle Arrington played a key role as the teams slot corner and did it very well most of the year. Second year rookie Logan Ryan, like Devin McCourty, had a sophomore slump and didn’t play nearly as well as he did during his rookie year. He was constantly getting beat by receivers and didn’t play the ball as well as he did the year before. Then there was Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler who played well when he was on the field and was a good depth player. Butler is now most popular for his Super Bowl interception, throughout the year Butler was impressive in limited action and showed very good man coverage skills. And with this secondary with the shut down corner in Revis and great complimentary number two corner in Browner the Patriots went on to win their 4th Super Bowl.
Based on the past teams during the Belichick era the team has won their Super Bowls with a top, shutdown corner. After losing Revis, Browner, and Arrington in free agency the secondary is set to look a lot different than it did in 2014. The current cornerbacks on the Patriots roster who are expected to make the roster and potentially play key roles for New England’s defense this upcoming year are Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, free agent signee Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Derek Cox, as well as safety Devin McCourty who some have suspected could make the switch back to corner with the current cornerback depth.
Ryan and Butler have spent time in New England and are expected to be the team’s two starting cornerbacks to start the 2015 season. Ryan is looking to bounce back after struggling last year and go back to the form he showed as a promising rookie in 2013 when he recorded 5 interceptions and played a big part of the teams defense. Butler will look to continue to shine after his game-winning interception in the Super Bowl. Butler already has high expectations heading into the 2015 season and time will tell if he will live up to the hype that has surrounded him since the Super Bowl.
Bradley Fletcher spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after spending his first 4 seasons in the league with the St. Louis Rams. Fletcher was inconsistent last season with the Eagles, with not much safety help over the top and would occasionally be beat on the deep ball with a lack of safety help. With safety Devin McCourty giving hep over the top to corners Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib the past few seasons, McCourty could also look to help Fletcher and transition Fletcher to potentially be a number one corner for New England. The Patriots are hoping that with the help of McCourty he could transition into that and not be the corner who was beat repeatedly by Dez Bryant and was seen crying on the sidelines at one point after constantly being targeted by Romo and beat by Bryant.
Robert McClain is a smaller corner at 5’9 and has primarily been a special teamer throughout his career. He played more defensively last year after injuries to Falcons corners. McClain could be used as a slot corner to replace Kyle Arrington, who was released by the Patriots this offseason and signed with the Baltimore Ravens. With McClain’s experience at both corner and special teams gives him a better chance to make the Patriots roster with Bill Belichick’s love for versatile players.
Derek Cox has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career playing for the Jaguars, Chargers and brief stints with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. Cox was a member of the Ravens briefly last year and didn’t see the field before being released by the time. Cox is a bigger corner like Fletcher (Cox 6’1, Fletcher 6’0) and has been inconsistent throughout his career, like Fletcher. Cox is said to be more of a zone coverage defender than a man defender off the line of scrimmage. Cox role in New England is still unknown and isn’t a roster lock by any means but could provide nice veteran depth to the Patriots secondary.
Without a true number one corner to start the year the Patriots defense will look to rely more on their pass rush then the team has the past few seasons. The team is also expected by many people to switch to a zone defensive scheme rather than a man scheme like they have the past few seasons when they had a top corner.
Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained a severe hand injury over the weekend due to a fireworks accident. Pierre-Paul reportedly had a U-Haul truck filled completely with fireworks to set off with some friends in celebration of Independence Day. While lighting one of the fireworks himself, something went terribly wrong, and Pierre-Paul burned himself. While there have been all kinds of reports as to the extent of the injury, it has become clear that there were indeed injuries to both hands. At first, there were reports that Pierre-Paul could lose an entire hand, and that this could be a career-threatening injury.
After being hospitalized, these reports appear to be false. Details are still rolling in, but it seems as though Pierre-Paul (or JPP as he is sometimes referred to as) did indeed injure both hands, suffering severe burns on the palm of one hand and the tips of three fingers on the other. One finger is being tested for nerve damage. Other reports suggested at the very least JPP would need a few fingers amputated, but these reports also look to be an overreaction, as doctors believed there will be no permanent damage.
Not only does this injury not seem to be career threatening, on July 5, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that, “It may not be game or season threatening, either.” The Giant’s have some concern that the injuries could cause him to miss training camp and the beginning of the regular season, but everyone is still awaiting more medical answers.
There is another twist to this story, as Jason Pierre-Paul has yet to sign the $14.8 million franchise tender, and therefore is technically not under contract. The Giants and JPP have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract, but the Giants have said publicly that they would be okay allowing JPP to play out the 2015 season under the one-year tender and then letting him hit free agency next year.
In the days following the accident, Giants team officials went down to South Florida, where Pierre-Paul lives, looking to see him and diagnose the injuries to his hands themselves. However, with JPP not currently under contract, he doesn’t have to let them see him, and he has avoided them since the accident. The Giants have yet to see Pierre-Paul’s hands, and the public has yet to be made aware of the extent of the injury as of Tuesday. JPP may end up as a free agent, not playing a snap for the Giants this year.
On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out a medical report that revealed JPP indeed had his right index finger amputated. It has been reported that Pierre-Paul should be able to play, “sooner than you think.” JPP reportedly chose to have the finger amputated because it would allow him to come back sooner.
JPP is certainly an important part of the Giants defense. Considered the team’s top pass rusher, the two-time Pro Bowler led the Giants in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits. The former first round-pick also recorded 76 tackles (third on the team), which was second only to J.J. Watt among defensive lineman in 2014.
If Pierre-Paul were to miss any time, let alone extensive time, it will certainly hurt a Giants team that has high expectations. Odell Beckham Jr. emerged as a star last year, they will get Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings back from injury, they’ve improved the offensive line, and Eli Manning is a 2-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Despite recent struggles, it isn’t inconceivable to think of the Giants as playoff contenders in 2015, but missing a top tier pass rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul could really put a damper on those playoff hopes. It certainly leads one to wonder about the six-week dead period the NFL has between OTAs and the start of training camp, and they will likely think about shortening the time period where the players go unsupervised, or perhaps, allowing more contact in order to supervise them during the six week offseason.
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