The Giants' defense needs Jason Pierre-Paul to lead them to what hopefully be a better season this fall.
BGB Assistant Editor
The Giants tonight will play in their third preseason game of the 2014 season against the crosstown rival New York Jets. The Jets will be the home team even though the two teams of course share the same stadium. Here are three players that need to step up tonight for the Giants.
1. The entire Offensive Line
Okay yes the entire offensive line is not one specific person, but when the entire unit is not particularly strong, it's not as easy to single out particular linemen that are noticeably better than others. But the bottom line is that the offensive line is the biggest factor to whether the Giants can be successful this season or miss the postseason for the third consecutive year.
The retirements of veteran linemen David Diehl and Chris Snee were huge losses for the Giants in the offseason. As a result, they will have to rely on J.D. Walton, Brandon Moseley, Geoff Schwartz, Justin Pugh and Will Beatty to protect Eli Manning and create open holes for the running backs. It's clearly not the same kind of offensive line the Giants had during their two recent Super Bowl seasons. But if at least some of these linemen really step up, it could make a significant difference for the Giants.
2. WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants' 1st round pick of the most recent NFL draft will need to be a major factor as he tries to fill the shoes of the departed Hakeem Nicks. Beckham also recently stated that he believes the Giants have the potential to have one of the NFL's best offenses. It was a very bold statement to make, and now that Beckham has talked the talk, he will need to walk the walk and back up his words.
A big game tonight vs the Jets could make a statement that Beckham not only could be a big weapon for the Giants, but also a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
3. Jason Pierre-Paul
Remember when the Giants' defensive line included Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck? Those days are over now with Strahan retired, Umenyiora playing for the Falcons and Tuck now a member of the Raiders.
The Giants' most notable defensive player now is Jason Pierre-Paul, who needs to step up and be a leader for the defense. When he is at his best, JPP is explosive and can really rack up the sacks. But last season, JPP was hurt for part of the season and only had two sacks all year. He will need to get back to being the elite defensive end he was in 2011 when he had 16.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl in order for the Giants' defense to have a better pass rush.
The Giants over the years have been well known for explosive pass rushing and for this current team, it all starts with the performance of JPP. Hopefully, he will stay healthy and bounce back into the elite pass rusher he has shown he can be.
Tonight's game can be seen on CBS at 7:30 PM EST. Let's go Giants!