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Jason Pierre-Paul had a monstrous season last year, putting up 16.5 sacks and cementing his status as one of the most feared pass-rushers in football.
This season? Not so much.
For whatever reason, Pierre-Paul has just not had the same success as he did last year. Through 15 games, he has only 6.5 sacks and has decreased his production in just about every statistical category that is important for a defensive end.
Why is this? Well, there are a few reasons. For one, Pierre-Paul, after his breakout season, has become the focal point for opposing offensive lineman. Opposing teams will now shift a tight end or a running back to his side to ensure he doesn't wreck havoc on the quarterback.
Still great pass-rushers should be able to overcome this obstacle. The great ones adapt and develop new counter-moves. For example, instead of a straight speed rush, they might try a spin, etc.
Of course, part of this falls on the defensive coordinator. If Perry Fewell sees that Pierre-Paul is struggling, it is up to him to develop new schemes to put him in position to be successful.
Whatever the reason for his struggles, it is abundantly clear that the Giants need Pierre-Paul to step his game up.
The main reason for the Giants' two Super Bowl rings in recent years has been an incredibly explosive pass rush. In 2007, this was led by Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck. Last season, it was Pierre-Paul. In order for the Giants to get back on track, Pierre-Paul must find a way to get to the quarterback.
This doesn't mean just sacks, either. Sacks are great, but equally as important are quarterback pressures. Anytime a quarterback is flustered or anytime a quarterback is pushed out of the pocket, the chances for mistakes go up. This has long been key to the Giants success and it's been missing for most of the year.
Pierre-Paul has to find the mojo that made him nearly unstoppable last season. Whether it's incorporating new schemes or simply finding an extra gear, the Giants will struggle to make the playoffs without Pierre-Paul.
And even if they do make it to the postseason, an ineffective Pierre-Paul will lead to a hasty exit for Big Blue.