Giants’ $200 million defense starting to pay off
EAST RUTHERFORD – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie believes the best is yet to come.
The Giants pumped $200 million into their defense, so the investment was expected to yield positive results this season.
With a 4-3 record and the offense still fighting to get out of its own way, the Giants have leaned heavily on that defense just one year after sporting the unit that finished the worst statistically in the NFL.
That was obvious again in Sunday’s 17-10 victory over the Rams in London, and that money certainly proved well spent:
-- Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul were disruptive.
-- Janoris Jenkins is emerging as a shut down corner.
-- Damon Harrison looked strong on the interior of the defensive line.
-- Keenan Robinson’s versatility continues to be an asset at linebacker.
“You understand what you have on the roster. I mean, if you look on paper, you’d be like, ‘Man, these guys should be this and this and that,’” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But the thing you’ve got to understand, it’s like a family, you’ve got to come together and continue to grow with each other. I know at some point in time, it’s gonna click, and when it does, things are really gonna get rolling. Our best ball is still ahead of us.”
Landon Collins and Rodgers-Cromartie became the first Giants tandem with multiple interceptions since Kenny Hill and Terry Kinard vs. San Diego on Sept. 14, 1986. The Chargers’ quarterback on that day was Dan Fouts, who just happened to be part of the NFL Network broadcast team for Sunday’s game in London.
Collins is the first Giants player to win the Defensive Player of the Week Award since linebacker Devon Kennard in Week 14 of the 2014 season. His 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Giants’ triumph over the Rams was spectacular as he weaved from one side of the field to the other on his way to the end zone.
“Landon has always been a guy that’s had good football instincts,” Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. “As a rookie, he was fortunate to get a lot of playing time ... so that always helps. You see his instincts showing up, you see his tackling; he’s a physical football player. You can see that he loves to play, whether it’s on defense or on special teams and now he’s tracking the ball well, catching it well and you see his talent when he has his hands on the ball.
“I’m surprised they ever let him get to defense with those running skills.”
The Giants and Patriots are the only teams this season to have at least one Player of the Week in all three phases (Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams). Odell Beckham Jr. was Offensive Player of the Week for his 222-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Ravens. Janoris Jenkins earned the special teams distinction for his touchdown return of a blocked field goal against the Saints in Week 2.
“A championship defense doesn’t happen in the first half of the season, it gets built,” Giants linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “We’re building right now. We’ve got our foundation down. We’re going in the right direction.”
Rodgers-Cromartie sees the defense as one that can carry a team a long way, but not without at least some increased production from the other side of the ball.
“A lot of people say ‘defense wins championships’ and all of that, but with the weapons we have on offense we know once everything starts clicking we’re going to be tough,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “With everything they have on that side of the ball, I know it’s not going to last like that.
“I know the guys over there, and we have guys who can change the game at any point.”