It's easy to picture what things look like when the Giants defensive ends are doing what they are supposed to do.
A quarterback drops back, pressure comes almost instantly and then one or more defensive linemen is engaged in a bit of look at me hot dogging in the backfield. Then you just repeat as needed until the Giants win a game.
We haven't seen that too much this season. It's been a lot more of the pass rush being a beat too late as a quarterback hits one of the receivers left wide open by the secondary or one of those vaunted defensive ends visible in the background chasing a player who got around the corner on them.
When the latter is playing out, the Giants defense doesn't have much of a shot because every flaw in the Giants defense becomes exposed like a bald spot from above. Outside of the Carolina game, that's been the way things have been playing out for most of this season.
It hasn't been a terrible defense. It hasn't been a forceful, game-changing one either, though, and that's not a recipe the Giants can win with over the long term.
Such things aren't much fun for Giants fans to watch and, apparently, the cause of that is that those poor fellas just aren't having the kind of fun that they'd like to have this season. Jason Pierre-Paul, who is actually the only one of the team's defensive ends who shouldn't be totally ashamed of his performance, laid bare the way that the lack of laughs are keeping him and other adults from doing their jobs to the best of their abilities.
"I’m not having that fun I’m used to. I've just got to go out there and run around like a little kid, just be happy that you’re out there and make plays," Pierre-Paul said. "Have that energy that I had last year. And that’ll go for the other guys, too. You could see it in their eyes that they’re not having fun with the game. They’ve got to find themselves and I’ve got to find myself."
It's never a bad thing to hear a player acknowledge that they need to do more -- especially when Justin Tuck is arguing that he has three quarterback hits in four games while being listed with zero -- but there are probably quite a few people working jobs a bit less glamorous than JPP's who would be happy to tell him that you have to actually show up for work even when you aren't having as much fun as a little kid.
If Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Umenyiora really are having problems finding energy at work, perhaps it is time for Tom Coughlin to send a little message about professionalism and sit them down in favor of players who don't have these deep issues motivating themselves.
We're not holding our breath on that front, but we've got a sneaking feeling that we're going to be hearing a lot about how JPP and his friends got back to having fun after Sunday's game (possible headline: Sunday Funday). The Browns are not a team that can hang with the Giants over 60 minutes, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden isn't a guy who can stand up in the face of the real Giants pass rush and the team's receivers are about as scary as the Care Bears.
If the Giants defense can't overwhelm this team and leave them looking to the heavens for some sign that life is worthwhile, it will be fair to wonder when they're going to be able to do it. The rest of the schedule is loaded with good offenses that are going to make it hard for the emo defense to find their smiles.
No time like the present, then, and it wouldn't hurt if Pierre-Paul led the way by actually finding some way to give it his all even though there's no break for a snack in NFL games.