Jason Pierre-Paul has two simple words to sum up his goals for the 2017 season: “Destroy everything”.
The New York Giants defensive end signed a four-year, $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in the offseason. His confidence stems from the Giants’ belief in him by inking that deal. Now, Pierre-Paul wants to take that confidence and wreak havoc on every offense he faces this season, with an eye on the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I have no choice but to go for that,” Pierre-Paul said in an interview with the New York Daily News. “I’m the type of dude, I’m greedy but at the same time do your job right…everybody has goals they want to achieve. If I get that, I get that but I’m going to play to my full capability and play to 110 percent.”
Pierre-Paul has certainly come a long way since the fireworks accident that almost ruined his career over the Independence Day weekend in 2015. His right index finger was amputated and a portion of his right middle finger was removed as well.
Pierre-Paul played eight games in 2015 but exhibited very little of the form that made him a first-round pick in 2010. He bounced back admirably in 2016, recording 53 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles before his season ended after 12 games due to a core injury that required surgery.
Pierre-Paul spent 2015 learning to adjust to playing with a finger and a half removed on his right hand. In 2016, he not only learned to play with his right hand but showed he’s still one of the NFL’s most feared defensive ends. That only adds to his confidence.
“To be honest, my hand surgery and my hand incident, I feel like there’s no injury I can’t overcome,” Pierre-Paul said. “If I can come back from that I can come back from everything, so I proved it. I’m out here playing well right now, I’m just trying to get better.”
Pierre-Paul made his presence felt in the preseason without much playing time. He had two tackles, a half sack, and an interception against the Cleveland Browns followed by three tackles (including one that resulted in a safety) and a pass defended against the New York Jets.
“I’m still getting warmed up,” Pierre-Paul said.
Pierre-Paul needs no inspiration for the regular season opener against the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have won three in a row against Dallas including a sweep of last season.
The 2017 Giants defense is drawing comparisons to other great Giants defenses. They will be counted on stifle and stymie opposing offenses with a ferocity reminiscent of past championship teams.
“We got great players here, we got great talent. You look around there’s talent all over the room,” Pierre-Paul said. “But it’s going to take a team. You can’t just look at everybody individually. The team is good. It’s not a Super Bowl team yet, but I feel like if we don’t make those mistakes and close out games like we need to do—take it one game at a time, we’ll get to where we need to go.”