Jason Pierre-Paul: I wasn’t too big last year

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Back in March, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that he thought defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a drop in play from 2011 to 2012 because he gained too much weight between the two seasons.

Pierre-Paul didn’t address the question of his overall level of play while speaking to the media at an event at a pizzeria on Long Island, but he did offer his thoughts about whether or not he was packing too many pounds on his frame. His take doesn’t match up with the one Coughlin offered last month.

“I was always in great shape. I’m still the same size this year. People say I look slimmer but I’m the same weight,” Pierre-Paul said, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com. “I was not big last year. I was 273 and I’m 274 now. If they want me to lose weight, I can do it that fast.”

Pierre Paul dropped from 16.5 sacks to 6.5 sacks last year, a drop that’s more dramatic than his actual drop in play appeared to be for much of the season. Pierre-Paul faced a lot more double teams than he did in 2011, fighting them off well enough to do a good job setting the edge against the run while still generating a fairly consistent pass rush. Whether it was Justin Tuck or Osi Umenyiora, the other side of the Giants defensive line was nowhere near as successful and that allowed teams to get away with doubling Pierre-Paul without paying the price.

That’s not to say that Pierre-Paul was operating at the same level as 2011. He wasn’t as effective and, like the rest of the Giants, he was at his worst in the final weeks of the season when a playoff berth hung in the balance. That’s the part of the season when Coughlin said Pierre-Paul was back to his ideal playing weight, which suggests there was more to blame for defensive struggles than JPP’s love handles.