There wasn’t much to gloat about from the New York Giants this season. An 0-6 start, 7-9 finish and the fourth season over the last five during which Big Blue failed to clinch a playoff berth, left Giants fans in disarray after another disappointing campaign.
But through it all, there was at least one positive to take away: Jon Beason.
Beason was acquired from the Panthers by the Giants prior to their Week 5 matchup with the Eagles in exchange for a seventh-round pick. The trade was meant to hopefully improve their linebacking corps and performance vs. the run; no one expected the oft-injured linebacker’s to play as well as he did.
The move to New York reignited the former Pro Bowler’s career. In 12 games with the G-Men, he recorded 93 tackles and one interception. He was a defensive leader and arguably the team’s most valuable player.
While the defensive line’s work could not be ignored, his presence played a clear factor into the instant improvement against the run. Upon his arrival, the Giants went on a tear, shutting down the league’s most talented rushers—LeSean McCoy (twice), Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris—in consecutive games. All six finished within the NFL’s top 10 in rushing yards.
The 28-year-old linebacker appeared to be in on every play throughout his 12-game tenure with the Giants. If there was a play to be made, he made it. Opposite a weekly atrocity on offense, Beason was a blessing. He may not have turned the defense into a top-flight group singlehandedly, but he certainly made a difference—he was what they had been missing since Antonio Pierce’s departure following the 2009 season.
The Giants have expressed interest in retaining Beason’s services and they’d be wise to do so. The team has lacked a quality, dominant force in the middle to anchor the defense and keep it afloat. With the pass rush on the decline and a forever suspect secondary, Beason’s presence in 2014 would provide some sense of security and veteran leadership; his presence certain helped this season.
What Beason was able to do in a 12-game span with the Giants, with no offseason work in the defense to speak of, points to a very high ceiling for the defensive star within coordinator Perry Fewell’s scheme. His season performance was a welcome surprise, but it will be nice to see if he can do again for the G-Men in 2014.