This pass rush is a big challenge
Size has long been key to line’s success
INDIANAPOLIS - When Giants general manager Jerry Reese was a young scout, then-director of player personnel Tom Boisture made sure he understood something about the franchise.
As Reese recalled this week, “He said to me, ‘Jerry, we’re the Giants. We want big people.’ That always resonated in the back of my head. You’ve got to have big people.’’
For the Giants these days, those big people are coming up especially big in the pass rush. With Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka, New York has the potential to make tomorrow a long night for Tom Brady.
“That’s definitely something that I learned from Ernie [Accorsi, the former GM], that if . . . you don’t get the quarterback off his spot in this league, you’re going to lose because they’re too good,’’ Reese said. “The quarterbacks are too good.
“The best way to do it is to have some big guys up front who can be disruptive, where you don’t have to blitz every snap and put your secondary in jeopardy of giving up some big plays.’’
The way the Giants view their pass rushers, it’s a necessity. That was part of the reason the team struggled earlier in the season, when its defense was not nearly as effective as it has become.
“It’s not a luxury,’’ coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s a style and a way in which we prefer to play. It’s a position that we place a whole lot of stock in.’’
The Giants sacked Aaron Rodgers four times in the divisional round, then Alex Smith three times in the NFC Championship game. But it wasn’t just the sacks. It was the pressure the Giants put on the quarterbacks - the same amount they’ll need to put on Brady tomorrow as they did back in 2008, when they sacked him five times in their Super Bowl upset.
“It’s going to be a tall task because they are going to do some things to get the ball out of his hands quickly,’’ said Tuck, when asked if they can get that kind of pressure on Brady again. “That offensive line is going to be fired up to play their best game, but we feel that we can play with anybody.’’
Mario Manningham is in the last year of his contract, but said he’ll worry about free agency later.
“I’ll worry about that on Monday,’’ he said. “I want to enjoy our team and enjoy this.’’
It will be the first Super Bowl for Manningham, who came to the Giants in 2008, the season after they won it all. He emerged the season after that, filling the void left by an incarcerated Plaxico Burress by catching 57 passes for 822 yards and five touchdowns.
He has been the Giants’ second-leading receiver each of the past two seasons, but this year he battled a knee injury and missed four games. With the emergence of Victor Cruz, Manningham became the No. 3 receiver, but he said he’s comfortable in that spot.
“It’s very rare,’’ said Manningham, who finished this season with 39 receptions for 523 yards and four scores. “You’ve got to understand your role and you’ve got to be a man about it. You can’t complain when you’re not getting the ball. Just keep working.’’
Manningham has ties to a couple of Patriots, growing up playing against defensive back Antwaun Molden and being coached in high school by Josh McDaniels’s father, Thom.
Most of the headlines around Manningham came when he said he hopes to expose Patriots receiver-turned-spot defensive back Julian Edelman. Although Manningham grew tired of repeatedly answering the question, he didn’t necessarily back off the statements.
“We know he’s a great player, but we want to go out and do what we have to do to win,’’ Manningham said. “No matter what it takes. He plays wide receiver. He’s not a real defensive back. Did he get drafted as a defensive back? We have a little bond going on knowing that we can beat somebody. We’re confident. I hope he’s out there.’’
Brady was accused of being too cocky with his comments at the Patriots pep rally before the team arrived here this week, but the Giants have picked up that tone. A number of players have issued guarantees of victory, from Chris Canty talking about a parade to Antrel Rolle all but saying the Giants will win. When asked about his team being too confident, Coughlin said, “I’m not sure what you’re referencing. I know that there are one or two quotes out there, but to be honest with you, I don’t know that either one of them is any different than Tom Brady’s quotes. I think it’s just a matter of our team has played good football against a great football team. We always focus our team on confidence enough to get there and confident enough to get back. That’s the way we look at it.’’ . . . Running back Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t practice yesterday, as planned, though he had the previous two days. Bradshaw, bothered by a foot injury, is expected to play tomorrow.