Why Damontre Moore Is the New York Giants' Biggest X-Factor in 2014

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Why Damontre Moore Is the New York Giants' Biggest X-Factor in 2014
USA TODAY Sports
Damontre Moore has set the stage for a breakout season.

According to Paul Schwartz of the New York PostNew York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore sets out to "humiliate" his opponent on every play:

Moore has met his goal with consistency so far this preseason.

The Giants offense has been under the microscope this summer, but the defense is much easier on the eyes. Big Blue's "D" is restocked with tantalizing talent, and yet it's a returning player (Moore) who has the most potential to improve New York's 2014 defensive platoon.

That's why I've named him the Giants' biggest X-factor for the upcoming season.

 

Growing Pains

Don Wright/Associated Press

At this time a year ago, then-rookie third-rounder out of Texas A&M Moore was showing early signs of being a draft-day steal.

Moore blocked a punt against the Pittsburgh Steelers, inspiring promise in his natural skill as a pass-rusher. However, Big Blue View's Ed Valentine writes the play also injured (damaged labrum, required surgery) the former SEC sack leader in a way that would teach him a lesson.

"Honestly it was an injury that I did to myself by doing the improper technique, so if I were to have become more of a student of the game and knew how I was supposed to do things and what techniques I was supposed to use I could prevent some of those injuries," Moore said.

Moore cites his blocked punt against the Oakland Raiders during the 2013 regular season, which resulted in a Cooper Taylor touchdown, as evidence that he has learned the correct, safe and effective way to rush a punter.

The injury to Moore's shoulder dumped ice water on what had been the beginnings of a Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Although he made it into 15 games, mostly on special teams, Moore only made nine defensive stops all season.

One year after he led his collegiate conference with 21 sacks, Moore was held sackless as a professional.

The Giants, coming off a 7-9 season, will need much more out of Moore in his second year.

 

A Dominant Preseason

Moore is not a starter, which only strengthens his case as the team's X-factor. A lot of Moore's action so far this preseason has come against other teams' backups and reserves. The Giants needed him to display dominance over lesser talent, and through four games he has.

Tom Rock of Newsday puts Moore's 2014 preseason in perspective:

The man some call "DaMonster" has been terrifying opposing quarterbacks this month, demonstrating his ability as a disruptive presence in the offensive backfield.

He looks like a different player than the raw, 21-year-old rusher that took the field last year. Perhaps he's a half-step quicker and a few moves deeper into his pass-rushing arsenal.

Whatever it is, it's working. Moore is getting around would-be blockers with ease this preseason. Against the New York Jets, he wrecked enough plays to earn a plus-3.0 Pro Football Focus rating.

"I still feel like I’ve got a lot more gears to hit," Moore told Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com. "It’s only the fourth game of the preseason."

Would Moore have made those same plays against starters in the first quarter? More importantly, will he make those plays in the regular season?

 

Moore in the Future?

The Giants must find ways to incorporate Moore as often as possible. Veterans Jason Pierre-Paul (right) and Mathias Kiwanuka (left) currently lay claim to the Giants' two starting end positions.

Art Stapleton of The Record reported on some experimentation on the Giants' first-team defensive front:

Moore should get a chance to start in the regular season. Not over Kiwanuka on the left, but over Pierre-Paul on the right.

According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, Pierre-Paul recently said that preseason sacks are "not important at all." Sacks appear more important to Moore than they do to JPP, as evidenced by the savagery with which the younger of the two has chased them this summer.

Quite frankly, that's the player I want starting.

A lanky, 6'5", 250-pound rusher, Moore's framework is reminiscent of Osi Umenyiora's. For years, Umenyiora, now an Atlanta Falcon, starred on the right side of the Giants' defensive line. Moore can develop into the same type of blind-side terror Umenyiora was as an All-Pro in 2005.

Should Damontre Moore have an opportunity to start over Jason Pierre-Paul on the right side?

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Let Pierre-Paul start in Week 1, but if Moore out-sacks him through the first four games, it is time to give Moore a majority of those snaps on the right side.

Pierre-Paul could then earn his way back into the starting lineup by beating out Kiwanuka on the left side.

When Michael Strahanwho tutored Moore in film studyretired after the 2007 season, Justin Tuck assumed Strahan's old starting job on the left side and stepped up as a leader of the defense almost immediately.

When it comes to 25-year-old Pierre-Paul and Tuck's recent departure, I have not sensed a leadership transition similar to the one then-25-year-old Tuck took by the reins in 2008.

Some new blood on the Giants' D-line will do it some good. DaMonster should be the man to bring it.

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