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Giants Still Playing Waiting Game on Defense

The Giants blew out the Saints without much help from the defense

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Tackling is one way to improve on the defensive performance of the first 13 games.

    Giants linebacker/defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said Monday that he wasn't bothered by everyone paying attention to David Wilson and the offense in the wake of Sunday's 52-27 victory over the Saints.

    "You put up 52, you got to tip your hat to our offense," Kiwanuka said. "We'll take the back seat to them. They put up a significant number of points."

    Indeed they did, but that's not the only reason why the Giants defense is taking the back seat these days. The other, bigger reason is that the defense hasn't played particularly well.

    That doesn't mean they've been awful. One look at the Saints defense is all you need to know that the Giants share few similarities with that pathetic unit.

    They don't share many similarities with the defense we saw at the close of last season either and that certainly merits some concern as the team prepares for three games they'd be better off winning if they want to assure themselves of a spot in the playoffs.

    New Orleans ran all over the Giants in the first half of Sunday's game against the Giants, piling up more than 100 yards against a unit that claimed their inability to stop the run against Washington was due to the Redskins running an option attack much of the time. We've seen them struggle to stop enough running backs in enough offensive systems at this point in the season to know that the real reason is that the Giants can't stop the run consistently. 

    The Saints also hit a few big passing plays, they had five plays of 20 or more yards over the course of the game, and that's been another season-long theme. Corey Webster's been burnt more often than a wick and Kenny Phillips' absences have clearly taken a toll on the team's pass defense even though Stevie Brown's gaudy turnover totals have gotten more attention from the masses. 

    Over the course of the season, the Giants have given up more plays of 20 or more yards than all but five teams in the league. The secondary bears some blame for this, but so does the pass rush. 

    The narrative is still that the Giants have the most fearsome pass rush in all the land. Cris Collinsworth nearly leaped out of the booth when the Giants finally sacked Drew Brees in the second half because he finally had a chance to further that narrative. 

    Truthfully, though, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have been fairly ineffective on that front this season. The mistakes made by the Saints on Sunday were not products of Brees being under pressure, there was an interception off a tipped ball and fumbles that found their way into Giants hands. 

    Forcing turnovers has been the one thing the Giants have done really well this year, but there's no team more aware of how unsustainable such things are over the long term. Remember when Eli Manning threw interceptions by the bucketful in 2010? 

    Those balls clanged off receivers' hands and into the hands of defenders when now they are dropped in the end zone by New Orleans defensive backs. Fumbles work the same way, something the Giants surely know after the 49ers were felled by them in the NFC Championship Game while Ahmad Bradshaw's Super Bowl miscue wound up back in friendly hands. 

    It will take more than that for the Giants defense to hold up for the kind of run they'll need to meet expectations this season. And now's exactly the moment to start that run. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.