Numbers don't lie, but they also don't tell the whole story. New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has watched his production slip the past two seasons after enjoying an MVP year in 2011 when he recorded 16.5 sacks forced two fumbles and 65 tackles.
The Giants would go on to capture the Lombardi Trophy that year and Pierre-Paul was at the pinnacle of the football world. After a somewhat disappointing 2012 regular season when he recorded 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and 43 tackles, it became apparent that injuries started to their toll on the third year pro.
This offseason Pierre-Paul underwent back surgery and still doesn't look like his old self approaching the midway point of the year. The two-time Pro Bowler has been trying to get back to the basics and looked back on film of the 2011 season to recapture his edge and refine his technique.
"I see, to be honest, it's a whole different player from now," said Pierre-Paul when comparing his performance from 2011 to today. "Even last year my numbers weren't up but I still felt like I was that player before the surgery. I did OTAs and felt awesome and it just changed. I just have to change the way I'm doing things. I'm going back, looking at film, I'm not trying to tweak my game so much that I lose focus of who I am but as of right now I'm just getting better."
Back surgery is no joking matter and Pierre-Paul admits that he is working day-by-day to return to top form.
"I know for a fact that I'm not as strong as I used to be," noted New York's defensive end. "I've been going to the weight room to try and lift weights and get my strength back. That will build up as time goes on."
When healthy, Pierre-Paul became an opposing quarterback's nightmare and created headaches for opposing coordinator. With just one sack on the season, No. 90 has been a far cry from a game changer.
"I'm not being a threat to them how I used to be," admitted Pierre-Paul of his pass rushing ability. "And that's basically it, turning the corner how I used to turn the corner. I could sit here and dwell on the past and critique my game but I can't go back and try to critique it so much and try to bring it into the future right now as I'm playing."
Clearly feeling the lingering effects from back surgery, Pierre-Paul told reporters on Thursday that his recovery is an ongoing process and he needs to be extra diligent with it if he wants to become a Pro Bowl caliber player once again.
"I still kind of feel pain back there but it's not that pain," said the Giants' lineman about his back aches. "I've got to continue doing my core work. It's not something that's just okay, I had the surgery and okay I did the rehab and that's it. I still have to continue doing it after practice, go into the training room consistently. It's going to take some time for my back to be strong like it used to be."