Giants Looking to Improve Run Defense
Run defense was projected to be one of the Giants' strengths going into 2020, but after two weeks, the numbers show that hasn't quite been the case yet.
The Giants' run defense has ranked in the bottom third of the league after allowing 276 yards on the ground, the ninth-most in the NFL.
That's been a bit of a sore spot for the Giants, whose defense is otherwise ranked in the top 10 in other areas such as overall (326.5 yards/game, fourth) and pass defense (188.5 yards/game, second).
Despite the issues with the run defense, the Giants don't appear to be too far off. They have allowed two big-play run plays of 10+ yards so far, a 30-yarder by Steelers running back Bennie Snell and a 23-yarder by Bears running back David Montgomery.
Without those two plays, the Giants have only allowed an average of 56 rushing yards per game, which would put them in the top ten league-wide.
Snell's 30-yard run in Week 1 came with 7:34 left in the fourth quarter, as Pittsburgh offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva was able to flush defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence out of the play to create a gap.
Giants outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter was in a position to make the tackle at the line of scrimmage. But rather than squeezing inside to attack Snell, Carter got caught up in a losing battle with pulling guard Stefen Wisniewski and was thrown to the ground.
Then at the second level, safety Jabrill Peppers was the last line of defense to prevent the run from getting out of control, but a poor angle allowed Snell to get outside of Peppers and get upfield for the long run.
In Chicago, the Giants run defense held the Bears in check for most of the game, but it was once again the fourth quarter that doomed the Giants on the ground.
Montgomery accumulated 43 of his 82 total rushing yards on the day on the Bears' final offensive possession of the game, yet the Giants were still able to hold Chicago to a missed field goal.
The Giants appeared to be in more of a prevent defense to guard against the pass, and while they bent, they didn't break when it mattered, holding Montgomery to just one yard on his final three carries of the game.
Montgomery's 23-yard run was the worst look the Giants run defense had all day.
On that play, Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines did not set the edge and were driven out of the play, thus creating a hole for Montgomery.
At that point, it was on inside linebacker Devante Downs to come down make the tackle but went too far outside, allowing Montgomery to cut back through the hole and go through untouched.
"When you give up rushing yards especially when you know they want to run it that's not what you want to do," said defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. "Obviously it all falls back on me, I got to do a better job there of putting guys in a better spot."
Inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer believes that his guys need to do a better job of diagnosing offensive plays as a unit and adjusting the formation accordingly.
"From the inside backer standpoint, what we have to do is basically make the defensive line correct," Sherrer said.
"They do a really good job of trying to knock guys back and control the line of scrimmage. We can do a better job of understanding where the line's going to end up hitting based on the front's rear end.
"There are times where we have to press the line. There are times when we have to stay back and fit things a certain way. Obviously we're not in the same defensive calls every single play and as we transition in and out of those calls you have to know where your help is."