Giants' defensive line backs up Perry Fewell's confidence with six sacks
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
When the subject of the Giants' stunningly ineffective pass rush came up last week during his weekly media session, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seemed to stare right through his questioner.
When he was asked if he planned any changes along the defensive line to rouse the pass rush from its slump, Fewell responded with a look as searing as the early-afternoon sun.
"They'll get sacks. They'll get hits," he sneered. "I have a lot of confidence in those guys. They'll play. They'll be fine."
Translation: Just watch what happens Sunday against the 49ers.
Any further questions?
Fewell's previously underachieving defensive front backed up his confident talk with its best performance of the season, piling up six sacks of quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in the Giants' 26-3 beatdown of the 49ers at Candlestick Park.
The effort was reminiscent of the Giants' defensive brilliance last season during their late surge, when they produced a dominant series of games on the way to a second Super Bowl title in five seasons.
Jason Pierre-Paul once again was a force, knifing through the 49ers' offensive line for two sacks, his first multiple-sack game of the season. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph had another, his first since the opener. Seldom-used defensive end Adrian Tracy had his first sack of the season. Mathias Kiwanuka also got his first, as Fewell had him line up frequently along the defensive line and not just at linebacker.
About the only notable player who didn't have a major impact was veteran Justin Tuck, who did not have a tackle. But as Tuck said afterward, he doesn't care about individual stats as long as the overall effort is there. And the win, too.
The Giants ought to be feeling very good about themselves after dismantling the 49ers, who had beaten their previous two opponents by a combined score of 79-3, and there's no question they deserve to be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Asked on a conference call Monday if he thinks the Giants can repeat, linebacker Michael Boley said, "There's no doubt."
But if they are to repeat, there's also no doubt they'll need the defensive line to play at a level similar to what they showed against the 49ers.
Not that they can expect a half-dozen sacks a game, but the Giants' front four is the engine that moves this defense, and when it operates at the kind of level we saw Sunday, there are very few offenses in the league capable of dealing with it.
Griffin is one of the league's most mobile quarterbacks -- much different from stationary pocket passer Smith -- but the Giants have proved to be resourceful in shutting down scrambling quarterbacks. So although they need to maintain discipline by staying in their rush lanes and not allowing Griffin to use his feet, there surely will be opportunities to bring him down.
Despite the well-deserved accolades Griffin has earned this season -- he's 3-3 as a starter and has a quarterback rating of 100.5 -- the Giants' pass rushers don't plan on showing him much respect.
Remember back in the summer, when Osi Umenyiora was asked about Griffin during an interview on WFAN?
"Who is this RGIII guy you guys keep talking about?" Umenyiora said. "You talking about Bob Griffin? You guys are giving him a cool nickname already and everything. When he does anything in the NFL, we're gonna call him RGIII. Right now, he's Bob Griffin."
Funny line, for sure.
Now we'll find out if the rookie can live up to the "show-me" challenge on Sunday. If Umenyiora and his defensive mates up front have anything to say about it, it'll be a long afternoon for Bob Griffin.