Perry Fewell Confident That Sacks, Quarterback Hits Will Come
It’s a question that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has no doubt heard dozens of times since the start of the season.
“Oh they’ll get sacks,” he said when asked when he thought that the Giants pass rush, which is off to one of its slowest starts under his care, might get going. “They’ll get hits. I have a lot of confidence in those guys. They’ll be fine.”
The question, though, is what gives Fewell reason for hope that his defensive ends—Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul—will snap out of their slump any time soon given that it’s reasonable to expect current and upcoming opponents to copy the blue print that has been put in place this year to slow their charge down.
“The way offenses are attacking us right now, sometimes that limits their opportunities,” said Fewell. “The ball does come out pretty quickly. Sometimes the way people are playing us doesn’t give us a number of opportunities to do what they do best.”
That’s where the Fewell believes the defense needs to take the initiative and start creating opportunities for itself.
Where the Giants have traditionally had success in terms of their pass rush are in games where they have held opponents to under 100 total rushing yards, something that this year, they’ve done in three of their five games, all wins.
However, when an opponent is able to achieve a run-pass balance, that’s where the Giants have really struggled.
“Obviously we have to figure out how to make the game more one-dimensional, so if we do a better job in the run game, then we can help them by letting them do what they do best,” Fewell said.
Another thing that has likely hampered the Giants pass rush has been the injuries in the defensive backfield. Unlike in the past, where Fewell might have dialed up a few more linebacker blitzes as part of a pass rush, this year, he hasn’t bee able to go that route very often, a likely result of the injuries that have taken a toll on the defensive secondary.
If the Giants are to impose their will against the 49ers, they’ll have to do so against running back Frank Gore, he of two 100-yard games this season as part of 432 rushing yards, which ranks him seventh in the league.
“Up front, they’re solid,” said linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka of the 49ers running game. “They block well for each other and then they have the play action that they run off of it, which makes people kind of unsure which way they’re going to go with it.”
If the Giants can bottle up Gore, they will force quarterback Alex Smith to throw the ball, something that he doesn’t always do well consistently.
“If we stop the run, we’ll take advantage of it,” Fewell said. “We can’t allow people to run the football and dictate what they want to do to us. We have to dictate what they can do to us.”