It's no secret that Eli Manning's 27 interceptions led the NFL last season. What's not as well publicized is that Jason Pierre-Paul, the New York Giants' defensive centerpiece, has seen his sack totals plummet from a career-high 16.5 in 2011 to a mere two in 2013.
General manager Jerry Reese concedes both players will have to bounce back to their 2011 form if the Giants are going to return to the playoffs this season.
"There are two guys on our team that have to play really well and it's Eli Manning and Jason Pierre-Paul," Reese recently told SI.com's Don Banks. "If those guys play well, I think we've got a chance to be really good."
It's a fair assessment. Manning and Pierre-Paul are the most important players on the offense and defense, respectively.
As we pointed out in our preseason Week 1 "winners" column, though, Pierre-Paul finally appears to be all the way back from back, shoulder and knee injuries that ravaged his 2013 season. At one point in last week's game, he tossed Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum like a rag doll.
Watching NYG/PIT game... JPP looks like he's got his explosiveness back.â Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 12, 2014
It's no coincidence that we have more confidence in the Big Blue's defense than its offense entering the season.