The Giants' front four has disappointed of late, and it has led to the defense taking a step back. Rushing four and playing zone has been a real problem against teams with sound pass protection and explosive quarterbacks and receivers.
Personnel certainly is to blame on one behalf. Osi Umenyiora is out, reportedly for a few weeks, with a badly sprained ankle, and that means more snaps for Jason Pierre-Paul, something defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has wanted to avoid. Fewell believes that Pierre-Paul, the Giants' best defensive lineman this season, is more effective with 40-45 snaps per game, and the numbers seem to suggest he's right.
But it also is worth mentioning that Justin Tuck has been nearly invisible. He hasn't had a full sack since Week Two and his tackle totals and explosive plays have been limited in recent weeks. Tuck's various injuries — neck, groin, shoulder and most recently, ankle — clearly have been factors. But team sources wonder whether he is 100 percent focused and playing with his usual fervor. In the past, Tuck has hinted that he can't lead fully when he's not completely healthy and that he has played with reservation at times to protect himself from getting hurt more.