Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
While the Giants’ pass rush has certainly been underwhelming as a whole, Justin Tuck has been particularly disappointing. The one-time All-Pro defensive end is still in search of his first sack of the season.
This is the second straight season that Tuck has gotten off to a slow start. Last season, he overcame distractions and injuries to collect 3.5 sacks in the payoffs. New York fans surely hope Tuck will bounce back from his current slump, but the future isn’t looking so bright—Tuck didn’t even record a tackle against the 49ers in Week 6.
The Giants’ defense has been shaky at times this year, and it’s hard not to blame some of that on Tuck’s lack of production. Tuck is the defensive captain and a team motivator; if he isn’t playing well, the whole unit seems a bit off.
New York needs Tuck to be more of a leader on the field. If the Giants want to replicate the championship run they had last year, they’ll need everyone playing up to par, especially the captain of their defense.
Diehl is now in his 10th season with the Giants, but an injured knee has kept him out for the majority of it. Diehl will have to recover from his slow start quickly if he wants to salvage what very well may be his final year as a Giant.
Against the Cowboys in Week 1, Diehl was the starting right tackle. But after damaging his MCL the following week, Sean Locklear was bumped over to the right side and Will Beatty was inserted at left tackle. Since shifting the lineup, New York has won four of its past five games.
Diehl was activated for the 49ers game on Sunday but failed to crack the starting lineup, as the current unit hasn’t given up a sack in three games. After rushing for 243 yards without him the week before, the Giants used Diehl sparingly as an extra tackle in some run-heavy sets.
In spite of Diehl’s history with the franchise, he’s currently on the outside looking in, as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
The Giants’ secondary, which was giving up an average of 8.8 yards per pass attempt heading into the 49ers game, has also been inconsistent. Veteran Corey Webster was once a shutdown cornerback, but he has struggled with his basic responsibilities so far in 2012.
Webster has settled down a bit since his awful performance in Week 1, but he’s still one of the most picked on members of the Giants’ defensive backfield. Quarterbacks are not even remotely afraid to throw in his direction anymore.
It’s difficult to come down too hard on Webster, though. The secondary has weathered injury after injury, and he has been one of the only mainstays. Despite breaking his hand in Week 3 against the Panthers, Webster has found a way to stay on the field, providing the unit with some much-needed veteran leadership.
Webster will have to improve as the season wears on because talented quarterbacks will take advantage of the mistakes he has been making. If he’s able to shut down his man a la 2011 Corey Webster, the Giants will field a stingier defense overall, making their chances of returning to the Super Bowl all the more likely.