Pressure is on Giants’ defense to get to the quarterback

October 14, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD – The numbers don’t exactly make sense.

Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul have just one sack each this season, but both players are among the NFL’s leaders in quarterback pressures.

The Giants have the fewest sacks in the league overall (4), with the other two coming from safety Landon Collins and cornerback Leon Hall, and none in the last two games.

“I only really know the sack numbers when somebody tells me,” Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “Sacks are great, they’re effective, they make a huge difference. It is not the telltale, in my opinion. It’s not one of the statistics that we use that has a great correlation between points allowed and points not scored. To us, we take the most important that correlate most to points allowed. Quarterback rating, 1st- and 2nd-down rushing stats … explosive plays. Sacks is not one of them. Would we like to have more? Yes.

“Would we like to have more pressure on the quarterback? Yes. I do think that there are moments in there where we are hitting and getting pressure on the quarterback that don’t show up on a stat sheet. But, we need more.”

Vernon and Pierre-Paul have made a significant impact in the run defense, which is often overlooked when it comes to setting the edge and completing that effort along the defensive front.

Vernon is tied for fourth in the NFL with 17 quarterback pressures. Pierre-Paul is tied for sixth with 15.

“To me it ain’t even about sacks to tell the truth,” Pierre-Paul said. “Yeah they’re nice to have, but in reality when you look at the game, all the games we’ve been close. We just have to finish. Our defense has been playing pretty well, we just have to get there and finish. And I’m not talking about the d-line, I’m talking as a group. Tackle better. We did a poor job of tackling. That’s for every guy on the team including myself. We just have to get better. We went out there and we were in shoulder pads today. We just have to finish.”

The Baltimore Ravens are banged up on their offensive line. Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley is limited with a foot injury, while the status of All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and right tackle Rick Wagner (thigh) against the Giants is uncertain.

Pierre-Paul has been on the field for 351 of a team total 365 defensive plays. Vernon has played 340 snaps.

“There’s no question I’ll be out there [Sunday],” said Pierre-Paul, who returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday as he deals with a groin injury.

“So far we have [played well defensively],” he added. “But we can do way better than what we’re doing now. And I know that for a fact.”