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Mailbag: Improved pass rush, defensive schemes

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Patrick in California: Will the defensive pass rush improve? Will the Giants play a 3-4 or a 4-3 or go back and forth?

John Schmeelk: Expect the Giants to continue to use a multiple fronts. In base defense (four defensive backs), maybe more odd-man fronts and your typical 3-4 alignment. Surely, some four-man fronts will be used depending on matchups. In sub-packages (five-plus DBs), expect more even fronts (four down linemen).

Last season's pass rush actually was more effective than some may think. The Giants managed sacks on 6.4% of their opponent's pass plays, which ranked 12th in the NFL. Their pressure rate was 31.4%, which ranked 17th in the league. They managed that without top edge rushers to help Leonard Williams, and a middling 28% blitz rate, which ranked 19th-highest in the NFL.

The Giants overall pass rush numbers should improve because they will be able to blitz more due to the addition of corner Adoree' Jackson. If the Giants adopt a more Patriots-like approach, they will play more man-to-man defense and send blitzers more frequently. Having a more reliable set of starting cornerbacks should allow them to get after the quarterback more frequently than last year.

Chris in New York: Do you think that Azeez Ojulari will be the next Lawrence Taylor as he embarks on the 2021 season?

John Schmeelk: This is official. If any other mailbag question tries to compare someone to Lawrence Taylor when they haven't earned it, there will be no response. There is no "next Lawrence Taylor" and no one should approve of comparing a rookie to him unless it is a special case. Ojulari can become an excellent pass rusher. Let's not start comparing him to one of the best-ever players in the game.

Ted in Pennsylvania: Are the 2020 COVID-19 rules regarding roster size, practice squad player protection from waiver claims, IR rules, etc. going to be in effect again this year? The IR rules seemed to be universally popular, and would seem appropriate for a 17-game season.

John Schmeelk: There are some things that can be carried over from the COVID-19 experience of 2020, and some of the IR and practice squad rules might make sense long term. All of those issues, however, will have to be negotiated between the owners and players if they represent a change to what is in the current CBA.

Edwin in New Jersey: What is the status of Nate Solder?

John Schmeelk: Nate Solder is back on the roster this year, and he will have a chance to complete for a starting position on the offensive line. Conventional knowledge indicates Andrew Thomas as the starting left tackle, which should give Solder a chance to compete with second-year pro Matt Peart on the right side. Solder has not played right tackle since his rookie year in the NFL.

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