The Giants lost an ugly game to the Eagles last night to drop to 3-3.
Overall, Big Blue has had an up-and-down start to the young season, and one of the team’s most glaring weaknesses has been the pass rush. Through 6 games, the Giants have managed a lackluster 8 sacks, which puts them tied for 28th in the league.
Because their pass rush has been so bad, the Giants have opted for an nontraditional approach to the defensive line. Against the Redskins in Week 3, they decided to put fullback Nikita Whitlock in at defensive tackle.
Whitlock is just 5’10, 250 – basically snack-sized for a position on the defensive line in the NFL. But before he turned pro and converted to fullback, Whitlock played nose tackle and linebacker in college at Wake Forest. So although he’s small and looks pretty out of place on the line, it’s not as though he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Last night against the Eagles, the Giants again tried Whitlock out on the defensive line:
On pass plays, it’s understandable why the Giants have used Whitlock. He’s so much faster than an offensive lineman that using him is similar to lining a linebacker up on the line. On rush plays, however, he’d be far less effective.
Against the Redskins a few weeks ago, he also used his speed on the spin move to get to Kirk Cousins:
He didn’t always have success, though, and when he tries to bat down Cousins’ pass you get a sense of how small he is compared to the rest of the linemen:
Although the results have been mixed so far, the Giants sound happy with Whitlock’s spark.
“He’s a multi-task, multi-talented guy who can rush the passer, plays fullback as you all know, is on all of the special teams,” head coach Tom Coughlin told NJ.com. “He’s got great energy, this kid.”
As for Whitlock, he seems happy to just have any opportunity. The Giants are his third team in three years in the NFL, and the first team that hasn’t relegated him to the practice squad.
“I’m going to just keep grinding. It gets tiring, but I’ve just got to keep balling,” Whitlock said to NJ.com. “When they put me in next time, hopefully I get a sack instead of a hit.”