If 2011 was Jason Pierre-Paul's dream year, then the first quarter of the 2012 season has been an early wakeup call.
"The past four games have been very frustrating to me," JPP said today. "…When I say frustrating, not as in football wise, just in myself. I can be a better player than what I'm playing now. I'm not used to playing like this. I can be a much better player and I just need to get hungry and get after it. Like I can't wait till somebody turns it on, so I can turn it on. So I've just got to go out there and do what I do best, which is playing hardcore football."
The source of Pierre-Paul's angst can be found in the numbers. After four games a year ago, the Giants were 3-1 and he had 22 tackles, seven tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hits. That was the kickoff to a season that ended with the Giants winning the Super Bowl and JPP being named All-Pro after finishing with 16.5 sacks, the NFL's fourth-highest total.
Because of that success, Pierre-Paul often attracts a crowd of blockers. The new season's four-game totals show the Giants with a 2-2 mark entering their home game Sunday against Cleveland and JPP with 17 tackles, four for losses, 1.5 sacks and one – yes, one – quarterback hit. No wonder he's not enjoying this season as he did the 2011 campaign.
"I feel like I haven't been having fun lately," Pierre-Paul said. "It feels like I'm kind of stressed a little, but I made an oath to myself that I'm just going to go out there and have fun.
"That's starting this week. Just keep running to the ball no matter where it's at."
Pierre-Pauli isn't alone in his unhappiness. Defensive captain and two-time Pro Bowler Justin Tuck has neither a sack nor a hit on his statistical line – though he disputes the last part of that equation.
"That's very wrong - I think I have three (hits)," he said. "But I don't have enough. I pretty much (stink)."
After Pierre-Paul's quote was relayed to him, Tuck said, "I can just say this. I'm not having that much fun, either. When I find out the cause of why I'm not finding much fun, I'll let you know."
And what's the key to having fun?
"Winning consistently," Tuck said.
The Giants' third Pro Bowl defensive end, Osi Umenyiora, is tied with Chase Blackburn for the team lead with 2.0 sacks.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said opposing teams are putting forth great effort to stop the Giants' ends, but that is not an excuse for lack of production.
"People are doing some different things to try and protect against us," Fewell said. "They're getting the ball out quick, but you know, no matter what, you have to play the game.
"Each team has been a little different in what they do. Sometimes, you get a surprise here or there by the protection that you see the opponent come out with. Obviously, we feel like if we know what they're going to do, then you can counter it if you know. However, each team has been different this year, again, sometimes you just have to whip somebody's (butt) and make a play, and we need to do that."
*Last week in Philadelphia, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy rushed for two yards in the first half – and 121 in the last two quarters.
"We underestimated his speed a little bit when he got around the edge," Fewell said. "You have to take better angles, you have to flatten out against the guy, and take a better angle against he and (Michael) Vick. Both of them were fast around the edges. They had a little bit of a different way that they did it. I think we'll be a little bit more prepared the next time that we play those guys."
*Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said he would like David Wilson to contribute to the offense, but the first-round draft choice must prove he can do the work.
"We keep trying to create things for him, but so far, he hasn't had success when we've given him a chance," Gilbride said. "So we just keep waiting for that day when he makes a play for us and we'll give him some more."
When someone mentioned that Wilson is playing well on kickoff returns, Gilbride said, "That's great. Now we need him to do it on offense."