The Giants defense has been an overall disappointment this season, but perhaps the most disappointing player has been Olivier Vernon.
The 28-year-old pass rusher has failed to do exactly that — rush the passer.
Vernon, who moved from a defensive end to an outside linebacker in the Giants’ new 3-4 base defense, has just one sack and six quarterback hits through six games. He also has 10 tackles but just one for loss of yards.
Those are hardly the numbers anyone expected from a guy who was given an $85 million contract just two years ago.
“I just worry about winning games, that’s it,” Vernon said, per Tom Rock of Newsday. “I want to win. Everybody wants to win.”
Yet the Giants have not been able to do that, either, and part of that reason is because of a non-existent pass rush that was meant to be anchored by Vernon.
They at least had an excuse at the beginning of the season.
Vernon missed the first five games with a high left ankle sprain — the same injury the cost him four games last season.
“He got a little bit of a slow start,” Pat Shurmur told reporters on Monday.
When he returned, it appeared the Giants were getting the boost they expected. The outside linebacker had a sack, two tackles and a quarterback hit in Week 6 against the Eagles.
However, he has not had a game any better than that and the Giants defense continues to struggle — most recently blowing a 19-3 lead to the Eagles on Sunday.
Whether Vernon is still not healthy or is struggling in his new position in a new defensive scheme, the Giants will likely face a big decision regarding Vernon this offseason if he does not have a strong finish.
Vernon is owed $30.5 million over the next two seasons. The Giants could save $11.5 million in cap space next season if they cut him, while still owing him $8 million in dead money, per overthecap.com.
It is very possible these remaining five games could be Vernon’s last as a Giant.