Thursday, October 22, 2009

Osi's Head

It's no secret that Osi Umenyiora's production at defensive end is down, down, down this year. This once-fearsome pass rusher, whose 13 sacks made him a Pro Bowler in 2007, has exactly seven quarterback hits in six games, and has registered just three sacks.

Questions about the knee that underwent extensive, season-ending surgery in 2008 have arisen. But Umenyiora said today that whatever problems he's having getting to the passer lie not in the knee, but about three feet or so above it.

"The knee's not an issue at all," Umenyiora said. "It's 100 percent mental."

He's not talking about any self-doubt about the durability of the knee. He's talking about scheme and his freedom to pass rush within it.

"What teams have done is make a conscious effort to confuse our D-line," he said. "They're showing us pass and they run, they're showing us run and they pass. It keeps us off-balance a little bit.

"But as a D-lineman, once you get in that mindframe that you're going to rush, you gotta rush. You can't be sitting there thinking 'I'll take what they give me.' You've got to know exactly what you've got to do. That's where a couple of our problems have come this year.

"I don't want to be over there thinking it's a run when it's a pass. I just want to take off. That's what I'm definitely going to start doing a lot more of."

Not that the rest of the defensive line is doing much of anything, what with Justin Tuck leading with 3.5 sacks and Mathias Kiwanuka contributing all of two sacks. But at least Tuck had pressured the quarterbacks regularly before last Sunday's debacle in New Orleans, where nobody got within spitting distance of Drew Brees. If Umenyiora's befuddlement has affected anyone else, it is probably Kiwanuka. He's looked defenseless and out of sorts for quite some time.

But Kiwanuka is a spare part on the outside at this point. Tuck and Umenyiora are the all-important cogs, and Umenyiora hasn't exactly lived up to his history.

It sounded today like he was still wrestling with a scheme that has to make provisions against both pass and run on individual plays.

"You never know what Arizona's going to come with," he said, ignoring the fact that coach Ken Whisenhunt has effected a 2-1 pass/run ratio with Kurt Warner. "We're going to be expecting one thing, and they're going to try to come out with something else. We have to do a much better job of adjusting.

"We do have responsibilites. We can't just take off like that. But sometimes we have the green light to do that, and that's when we have to do a better job of executing."

I had fully intended to show you a video of Osi talking about rebounding from last week's loss and about defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan's demeanor this week, but something went wrong with the clip. Maybe a bad cell in there somewhere.

But this is just as entertaining. Here's a video of Sheridan putting the heat on the Giants' defense to ramp up the heat on a Cardinals team that has a decidedly different look to its passing attack.

It should be noted here that the Giants' unit has gone sackless in three games this year.

Interesting side note: Sheridan later admitted he should have dialed up more blitzes last week. He only blitzed 11 times in 33 called passes, and most of those were stopped cold. That's a big change from the last two years under Steve Spagnuolo, who would order up blitzes like some people order up margueritas at happy hour.

He said the Giants haven't blitzed much all season because the front four was getting sufficient pressure against weaklings like Tampa Bay, KC, and Oakland. But he said that will necessarily have to change now that the Giants are facing truly dangerous passing attacks.



  1. Osi is full of excuses and needs to work harder especially when the other team runs. He believed all the press about how great he is and has been getting his ass kicked physically.

    Ern, big gripe with u about Kiwi. He has been active and this is clearly the best he has played. While he just like the rest of the d was invisible last Sunday he has outplayed Osi and been in on many qb pressures in key times. I would not call him lost and think u owe him an apology for the harsh critique after one bad game. Furthermore, he has played the run as well as Tuck this year.

  2. Just bring the blitz often and get these guys fired up and we'll be fine.