If Jason Pierre-Paul thought every year was going to be like his breakout campaign last year, the New York Giants defensive end is finding out not every season is always fun and games. The operative word here being "fun."
After only four games, Pierre-Paul is unhappy with his own performance (1-1/2 sacks) and and the inefficiency of the Giants defensive ends to pressure opposing quarterbacks. The vaunted "NASCAR" defense — Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Unmenyiora — has recorded only 3-1/2 sacks through the first quarter of the season.
"I'm not having that fun, I'm used to," said the 23-year old Pierre-Paul on Thursday. "I've just got to go out and run around like a little kid — just be happy that you're out there and make plays. Have that energy that I had last year."
It sounds like Are you down with JPP? just took on a whole new meaning.
"And that'll go for the other guys, too," he continued. "You could see it in their eyes that they're not having fun with the game. They've got to find themselves and I've got to find myself."
All three defensive studs would like to get back to last year's mirth-making performances that lead to a Super Bowl title but have been hindered this season by double-teams and key injuries to defensive unit — particularly the secondary.
Kenny Phillips joined Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster with injuries that kept all three defensive backs off the practice field this week. Phillips was on trainer's table in the first quarter against the Eagles after spraining an MCL. Tuck said the safety's absence in the final three quarters of last week's loss made him "gun-shy."
"I'm not having that much fun, either," added Tuck. "I pretty much suck."
The Giants (2-2) had a full week to prepare for the Cleveland Browns without Phillips. Now, the defense's task will be to adjust.
"Sometimes you just have to whip somebody's (butt) and make a play," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "And we need to do that."
Pierre-Paul — who many expect someday to break former Giants DE Michael Strahan's single-season sack record* ( *Brett Favre) — has to learn to block out the fans' high hopes and remember there's a Super Bowl bulls eye on each Giants player's back in every game this year.
"People have high expectations of me, so it kind of brings me down a little knowing I've got to live up to that," Pierre-Paul said. "But I have to have fun too. I can't just go out there thinking I'm Jason Pierre-Paul. It doesn't work that way."
Could facing a Browns (0-4) team — spear-headed by rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and first year running back Trent Richardson — be the cure for the Giants blues?
"We aren't living up to the way we expect to around here," said Pierre-Paul. "We're not going to make excuses about it. We haven't played the way we're capable of playing. That's why I haven't had the same amount of fun."
Are you depressed with JPP, yet?