The names and faces have changed. The story hasn’t.
The Giants were the NFL’s 30th-ranked team in sacks during a three-win 2017 season. They finished 31st in the category during last year’s five-win campaign. They enter Sunday’s matchup with the Bills as one of three teams in the league without a sack, and they pressured Dak Prescott on just 4-of-32 dropbacks — according to Pro Football Focus — during the season-opening 35-17 loss to the Cowboys.
Now, the Giants face a Buffalo offensive line that allowed one sack in last week’s win over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
“The guys know the sense of urgency to get to the quarterback,” outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson said. “This is the ultimate, ‘I see better than I hear.’ It’s time to get there and stop talking about it and go get it done.”
Following a knee injury that sent Kareem Martin to injured reserve, Markus Golden is the rare Giants defender to have proven ability at this level.
A 2015 second-round pick, Golden, 28, joined the Giants after four years with Arizona. During his second season, he recorded 12.5 sacks, while playing under current Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher.
“He’s a guy that’s done it. He’s had success. He’s been in this system. He’s a little bit unique in that way,” Dawson said. “The intensity, the strength, him getting after the ball is gonna be a big deal for us. He brings great energy. He’s gonna be running, around flying all over the place … and he needs to put it all together and get to the [quarterback].”
Since his standout sophomore season, Golden has posted just 2.5 sacks in 16 games. He also tore his ACL in 2017. Back at full strength, Golden assisted on just one tackle against Dallas last week.
“It’s a new week. You go out there with the mindset: You’re about to go hunt,” Golden said. “Guys are ready. Guys are hungry.
“We gotta stop the run first, then worry about the rush. You can’t rush the passer without stopping the run. People always seem to forget that. I’d rather have a third-and-long than a third-and-5.”
Lorenzo Carter showed glimpses of his potential as a rookie last year, recording four sacks. Now, Bettcher will find out how much a new pair of first-year edge rushers can help.
In Martin’s absence, third-round draft pick Oshane Ximines played 21 snaps against the Cowboys, making one tackle.
“Those were valuable reps,” Ximines said. “I just gotta go out there and execute. Hit the quarterback. It’s that simple. Even when you can’t get a sack, hit the quarterback or disrupt him, whether you’re putting your hands up, or being in the right place at the right time.
“I’m very confident. We’ve been grinding away every day. We’re ready to go out there. … We just gotta be disciplined in our rush lanes and go after him as hard as we can.”
Tuzar Skipper arrived on Monday via waivers from the Steelers. Pittsburgh had intended to bring the undrafted 24-year-old back after he recorded five sacks and forced two fumbles in the preseason, but the Giants swooped in to claim him minutes before the waiver deadline.
“[Skipper] is gonna come flying in here a million miles an hour, which is what you like to see coming off the edge,” Dawson said. “He’s got an explosive first step, does a great job of getting his rush going. … He’s strong. He puts his hand on somebody, he’s gonna knock them backwards, so we gotta get him to have the confidence to know where he’s going and what he’s doing so he can play as fast as possible.”
Not a problem.
“When you get that opportunity you just go. You don’t think. You pin your ears back and go,” Skipper said. “[It’s like] my head is on fire. Just go. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s my mom. That’s my mindset.”