For the first time in his football life, Jason Pierre-Paul is frustrated.
In the past he always was able to overcome most obstacles just by being himself, an athletic freak of nature who could overwhelm offensive players with his size and speed. This season, though, his impact has been limited. One of several preseason favorites for Defensive Player of the Year honors, Pierre-Paul has been held to only 1.5 sacks and 17 tackles.
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"I'm not used to playing like this," the third-year end said. "I can be a much better player. I can't wait for someone else to turn it on so I can turn it on. I just have to get out there and do what I do best."
JPP is down. Down, as the song goes, with JPP.
But he's planning on getting back up against the Browns. Pierre-Paul said the missing ingredient in his game this season has been fun, and he wants to have some on Sunday. Expect to see an unbridled Pierre-Paul in that game, playing with enthusiasm and abandon.
"I made an oath to myself that I'm just going to go out there and have fun like I did last year," he said. "Just running around like a little kid."
He hasn't been doing much of that this season. Some of it, he said, is because of the high expectations people had for him. That has weighed him down, he said. But he's also noticed there are lots of times when the ball is on the other side of the field and he just watches it instead of chasing it as he did in 2011, when he was a terror to offenses.
"You don't really notice it on tape, but I know it," he said. "Even though it looks like I'm doing my job well, only you know if you're going hard on all those plays, which I do, but I know I can go even harder to help my team out. That's what I'm looking for this year. I haven't been doing that the first four games. I've only been going hard, but I'm going to go a little bit harder."
Pierre-Paul isn't the only Giants defensive lineman looking to put more grin in his game. The vaunted pass-rushing trio of Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora has totaled 3.5 sacks. Tuck has only three quarterback hits in four games.
"We aren't living up to the way that we expect to be around here," Tuck said. "Therefore we haven't had the same amount of fun."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he knows a way for his guys to enjoy themselves more on the field. "Sometimes you just have to whup somebody and make a play," Fewell said. "We need to do that."
Pierre-Paul has shown he's capable of doing that. Teams have been focusing on him and double-teaming him this season, and he's made some plays. When he does, however, he just doesn't get the same charge out of it that he did in the past. No one does, he noted. It's become a bit too businesslike.
"I have to be out there like a little kid, man, just be happy that you're out there and make plays and stuff," he said.
"When I made the plays [this season] I would just say, 'OK, I made the play, it's on to the next one.' [I need to] have that energy like I had last year. That goes for the other guys, too. You can see how they're not having fun with the game. They have to find themselves and I have to find myself."
It's not too late in the season for him to start finding himself on the stat sheets and re-establishing himself as one of the scariest defenders in the league.
Now that would be fun, both for him and for Giants fans to watch.