Any time any player is forced to have back surgery at any age, there’s a whole lot to worry about. This is especially true if said player absorbs a lot of contact while catching footballs up the middle of the field (Rob Gronkowski), and if the lingering effects of being carved up could drain a player of the agility he leans on to perform at an optimal level.
The latter is true with Jason Pierre-Paul, and now that he’s going under the knife today to repair a disc condition that bothered him throughout last season, we’re left to wonder what Jason Pierre-Paul we’ll see in Week 1. Or if we’ll see Jason Pierre-Paul at all in Week 1.
According to multiple reports, the Giants defensive end will have the procedure later today, and although he’ll be placed on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of training camp, he’s still aiming to be ready for Week 1. But now after Osi Umenyiora was allowed to walk through free agency and join the Falcons, in the most optimistic scenario the Giants will begin the season with significant questions surrounding Pierre-Paul, and with either Mathias Kiwanuka or Damontre Moore stepping up if he stumbles to play opposite Justin Tuck.
That’s a rookie, and a guy with three sacks last year, which isn’t an ideal position for a pass rush which regressed in 2012, going from 48 sacks the previous season to 33. Not good.
Of course, part of the problem is that Pierre-Paul labored through 2012 with this back injury, recording only 6.5 sacks after bringing down the opposing QB 16.5 times the year before. So among those who approach their existence with far more optimism than I, JPP’s surgery today is a reason for hope. Ideally, he’ll get patched up, and when he recovers he’ll triumphantly return as that other guy who was really good during the last time the Giants were champions.
Maybe that happens, although the message from my eight ball isn’t encouraging. Right now, though, every quarterback in the NFC East who has to face the Giants twice a year just received an ever so slight fantasy uptick. They could easily be dropping back against a weak pass rush again, which is welcome news for Robert Griffin III as he continues his own recovery from his own severe injury.