Although the Giants were defeated by the Eagles on Sunday by the score of 34-26, a certain New York defensive end was able to get a great start to his offseason. Jason Pierre-Paul already figured to be in for a big pay day this March when free agency opens, but with two sacks against Philadelphia, he just became even more valuable.
Pierre-Paul got off to a slow start this season with just 3.5 sacks in his first 11 games, but since then he’s gone on a quarterback-destroying tear with nine sacks in five games. The spurt comes just in time for Pierre-Paul to hit free agency, as his 12.5 sacks in 2014 mark his best season since his breakout year of 2011.
Now the big question is whether Pierre-Paul will stay with the Giants or seek employment elsewhere. At just 26 years of age, he’s bound to be a hot commodity this offseason.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” said Pierre-Paul. “But I went out there and played great today and my teammates played great. We didn’t play great enough to win this game. It pisses us off that we lost. It is what it is. Everyone is holding their heads up high. We know what we have here.”
Pierre-Paul isn’t the only Giant facing an uncertain future as the team’s season ends. Head coach Tom Coughlin is well respected by players and media members alike, but he’s coming off of a third straight season without a playoff appearance. That’s often a good recipe for a coaching change, but Pierre-Paul thinks that Coughlin will be back with New York in 2015.
“I look at Coach Coughlin as a dad,” said Pierre-Paul. “He is a good coach. The way he runs things around here is very respectful. Guys respect that. You need somebody like that on the team. Otherwise, it would be chaos. Coach Coughlin is a very good coach. I am pretty sure he is going to be back next year.”
Skeptics will say that Pierre-Paul played so well down the stretch because he was motivated by free agency, while others will point to Coughlin’s leadership as the reason the Giants won three of their last four games despite being out of the playoff hunt. Even though the results haven’t been good for the Giants lately, ownership is said to trust the process that led to Coughlin winning two Super Bowls with New York.
As for Pierre-Paul, he’s still trying to figure out how he turned into such a beast during the second half of the season.
“I don’t know what changed. I am trying to figure that out myself,” he said. “I am playing better. I had to step up big time. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t stepping up the first couple of weeks. Injuries. I fought through them. I got healthy and I have been on a roll. That is the game of football. You never know.”