Last week defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he felt the Giants needed to find a way to give defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon some rest during games. Take them out a bit, establish a rotation with younger players, keep them fresh for important fourth-quarter drives.
It was a nice plan. But it remained one in theory, not in practice.
JPP played all 74 defensive snaps in Monday night’s loss at Minnesota, plus five on special teams. Vernon was on the field for 70 defensive snaps and five on special teams. Through four games, they have played 280 and 268 defensive snaps each, respectively, ranking as the most and second-most among edge rushers in the NFL.
Perhaps Monday night’s performance will force the Giants to re-evaluate their thinking with the two highly paid players who essentially were non-factors in the game. Neither had a sack despite playing against a pair of backup tackles for the Vikings. They each had just three tackles. And in the fourth quarter after the Giants offense finally grabbed some momentum on the long screen pass to Paul Perkins and the TD run by Orleans Darkwa to cut the deficit to 17-10, the Vikings marched down the field on an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to score the final points in the game.
It was the second week in a row that a team drove for points in the fourth quarter against a clearly gassed defense. Washington did it last week, going 56 yards on 10 plays and chewing up over six minutes before kicking the go-ahead field goal.
“When you get down to the end, we really need to step up and those guys need to be fresh,” Spagnuolo said last week. “Maybe we should take some plays off of those guys. It’s hard to do.”