After Sunday's 37-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers, the New York Giants sit at 5-8 on the year. Not exactly something to be proud of. With playoff hopes gone and a terrible all around, it's tough to point out a consistently better player than Rolle on this 2013 squad.
Now, when we think of Antrel Rolle, we think of a man with spirited opinions who will speak his mind no matter what, be damned what anyone else thinks.
For instance, he had no problem talking to WFAN radio, calling out the Giants' performance against the Chargers as having no fire, no intensity and no emotion.
But it's nice to see someone who can talk the talk...actually walk the walk.
The Numbers Don't Lie
He is the best overall defensive player. Surely other players have excelled in specific areas, such as Justin Tuck and his 8.5 sacks this season. But at least Rolle has contributed to the all facets of the defensive game.
Rolle leads the team with 79 tackles, 64 of them unassisted. And Rolle's two sacks? He managed to make the opposition lose a total of 21 yards from them. It took Mathias Kiwanuka four sacks to yield a combined loss of 24 yards.
By the way, the five interceptions Rolle has on the year ties him for second place in the league. Lavonte David of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans' Alterraun Verner also have five interceptions on the year. Currently, DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions is the NFL's leader with six interceptions.
Rolle's five interceptions are also the most interceptions he has had in a season since 2007, when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
And after a season of seeing New York pick off opponents but failing to do much on the return, Rolle showed that he can flip the field position in favor of the Giants. His longest interception return was 25 yards, second on the team to Ryan Mundy's 91-yard return during the first game of the season.
He Takes Every Game Very Seriously
On his weekly chat with SNY's Daily News Live, Rolle admitted that the biggest disappointment of this year for him was that the team's chemistry has been lacking. It was especially lacking during the first six weeks of the season. "The chemistry wasn't there. Just us being in sync in all three phases of the game, it was just not there for whatever reason," he said.
Rolle then told WFAN radio's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts that since the first six weeks he's really looked at games as a way to see how the team could function better as a unit.
He doesn't even care at all about this year's division title and the two teams now battling for it, the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles. His only concern is the future for his floundering team.
And he thinks the Giants should not make any more excuses about their failure to win games:
As players, we all understand that nothing's going to be given to us. We can't have a pacifier in our mouth the whole time. So if you've got to go travel six hours to go play a game, then that's what you get your mind ready for. That's what you get your body ready for.
"I attack every game the same," he argued. "Every game to me is the Super Bowl."
Nothing changes!! We come to work and grind like no other. We will fight until we can't fight anymore. NO one NO comments breaks our spirit— Antrel Rolle (@antrelrolle26) November 25, 2013
Rolle tweets out to teammates and fans, saying that the Giants need to work hard over these last weeks of the season no matter what. That's called leadership.
Although their dreams of getting to the playoffs are crushed, the season isn't over by any means.
And the way that the offense, special teams and defense have been playing (just look at the grades former Giant Shaun O'Hara gave the team), there's a fair chance that the Giants will lose at least two of their final three matchups.
So why not use this time to try and work out some of the kinks? And by that I mean the Giants should start focusing less on Rolle and more on how safety Will Hill plays.
Rolle's 2014 salary is meant to be at $9.25 million, and the Giants can't keep him around unless he takes a pay cut. He probably won't want to take less money, and he will probably be released. So the Giants really should be giving Hill more playing time to see what options he provides them.
If Rolle does end up leaving the team, here's hoping that Stevie Brown fully recovers from his preseason ACL injury.
Brown played well in 2012, intercepting eight passes in 11 games. If he can come back healthy, he should be a bright spot on the 2014 New York Giants.