Many of the names and faces might be changing for the Giants defense, but defensive end and Captain Justin Tuck said that if the defense wants to rebound from last year’s subpar performance, it needs to find the consistency that was sorely lacking on a weekly basis.
“There were some games that we played great and the type of football that we know we can play around here, and then there were weeks that you scratch your head because we weren’t the team we wanted to be,” he said before the Giants took the field for their first training camp practice.
“I think we have to try to be the same team every week and I think that starts with the preparation every week and making sure that we’re in the right mind frame, regardless if we come from a great win or a bad loss. We have to understand that it’s a long season and we can’t allow ourselves to be in those rollercoasters like we have been.”
In order for the defense to become consistent, there’s a matter of answering a few questions at each unit, starting up front, where Jason Pierre-Paul, who begins camp on PUP, is currently recovering from the back surgery he had at the start of June to repair a herniated disc – Pierre-Paul put himself at about 75-80 percent full strength – while Tuck himself is trying to bounce back from injury filled years.
“I’m my biggest critic,” Tuck said. “There’s nothing you guys can write or say that I probably haven’t thought or found ways to try to already correct. So I know where I am personally and I know what I’m still capable of doing. The process is to come out here and work and make sure come Sundays I can go out there and do that.”
Then there are the new faces on defense, most notably the linebackers, who will field three new starters. Those new faces, Tuck said, can be an advantage.
“It’s exciting. It kind of revives you and tells you that you have to get to know these guys and how they play in certain situations and understand what they do. That’s good.”
When it all comes together, Tuck said a key will be for the unit to get back to being able to consistently pressure the quarterback.
“I think we got too wrapped up in sacks (last year),” Tuck said of the anemic pass rush. “I think where we have made our mark is the time we don’t get sack the time the quarterback does run the ball fast and we’re still competing.
“I think quarterbacks feel that pressure throughout the game and that’s where you start seeing them be rattled in the pocket. It’s not about sack numbers. It’s about the pressures. So we have to get back to doing that.”
That’s why as defensive captain, Tuck is going to take it upon himself to make sure that his unit is energized, paying attention to the little details, and ready to roll come opening day.
“The object is to win. That’s what all our focus in. Obviously we have a lot of work to do and it starts today,” he said.
“The first couple days is just attitude. There’s not a lot of volume here right now. So we should be able to play fast and play energized. And I think that’s what all of us are looking for. Making sure we sprint to the ball and have things go crisp. I think that’s what we’re looking for in these first couple practices.”
And when it all comes together, what can people expect from the Giants defense?
“You want to be intimidating, but that’s not the end goal,” Tuck said. “You want to win football games. But as a defense you do want to have that persona of being a defense that’s going to get after offense, that’s going to hit the quarterback and be a physical defense.”