With the 15th overall pick in the 2010 National Football League draft, the New York Giants selected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out of the college of South Florida.
Not even fully through his second season as a member of the Giants organization, his coaches, teammates, and fans could not be more pleased with his results and effort. In the midst of the finest season of Eli Manning’s career, JPP (as he’s known colloquially), has gotten lost in much of the commotion.
It’s clear that Eli Manning has led the Giants to first place in the NFC East 14 weeks into the season, leading the Giants from behind in six of their seven wins, yet without Pierre-Paul, it’s likely the G-Men have even less than that.
Known by his teammates as “Superman”, Jason Pierre-Paul’s most recent play against the Dallas Cowboys might end up one of his most famous. In a game where the winner would take control of first place in the NFC East, the Giants defense did not show up – for most of the game. One of the few (very few) exceptions was Pierre-Paul, who led the team with eight tackeles, recorded two sacks including one for a safety, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal which won them the game.
For his efforts this past week, Jason Pierre-Paul has been awarded the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
The Giants, who are normally known for their tremendous pass rush, strong defense, and impressive run game, have veered far from the norm this season. In the 2011 campaign, the Giants are ranked last in rush yards per game, and have one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Riddled with injuries, their defense has not played like their usual selves either. Jason Pierre-Paul being the exception.
Fellow defensive end, Dave Tollefson claimed “As long as he keeps coming to save the day, we’ll be alright.” To have a veteran say something of that magnitude only reflects the type of player JPP is. The best part of his performance this season is he’s only begun to realize his potential. When asked if he understood the skies the limit, he responded with “Yeah. I’m still getting better and better each day.”
With three (very important) games left to play, Pierre-Paul has racked up 12.5 sacks, the most by any Giant since Osi Umenyiora had 13.0 in 2007. Not only is Pierre-Paul on pace to pass that number, it’s possible he passes Umenyiora on the depth chart. In the middle of a contract dispute and injuries, Umenyiora has been overshadowed by the sophomore player. Although he still has one year left on his contract with the Giants, and despite wanting a renewed contract, Umenyiora may be training the man who eventually replaces him.
While still in contention for playoffs, and ultimately the Super Bowl, it’s difficult to think about next year as a Giants fan. However, with the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul as a superstar, Eli Manning playing the greatest football of his career, and a healthy defense, there’s no reason the New York Giants can’t be the class of the NFC along with Green Bay and New Orleans in 2012.
I can’t wait to see what JPP and the G-Men have in store.
Anyone else put a ‘Pierre-Paul jersey’ on their Christmas list?