The New York Giants have stars on both sides of the ball; on offense there’s Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw. On defense, Jason-Pierre Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck received most of the spotlight.
However; there is a player on the Giants defensive line that doesn’t get any front page features or superstar money, but he is arguably one of the most valuable players on the defensive side of the ball. I am referring to DT Linval Joseph. One look at the 6’4/323 lbs Defensive Tackle stats and it may not support this statement. However; a closer look shows a different story.
Joseph has 29 tackles (19 solo) one Forced Fumble, one Recovered Fumble and most impressively 4 sacks at the tackle position in 9 games. Not shown on his stats are the countless double teams and 2 gap responsibilities that Joseph handles game after game. In New York Giants history, defense has been a corner stone for many of their championship teams.
In the 1980’s with super stars such as Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall and Carl Banks anchoring the defensive side of the ball. However; there was a similar player that compares favorably to Joseph in regards to his under the radar contributions and that was Curtis McGriff. McGriff was a 6’5/270lb Tackle that only had one responsibility and that was to control the gap to his right and the gap to his left. Bill Parcels once said of McGriff that he is one of the most valuable players on defense. His assignment gave players such as Marshall and Taylor more freedom to rush the passer.
This assignment gave players such as Carson and Banks the freedom to make tackles and not to have an offensive linemen body on them. To me, Joseph and McGriff have similar roles and success in their responsibilities.
There’s no mistaken that the Giants would not have won a super bowl without Carson, Banks, Taylor and Marshall. The same can be said with the current Giants defensive stars in Tuck, JPP and Umenyiora. What also could and should be said is that all of these highly talented defenders would have had a tougher time performing on the field if it wasn’t for the unheralded performance and contributions of McGriff and Joseph.