New York Giants: Justin Pugh will get last laugh vs. Muhammad Wilkerson


While New York Giants guard Justin Pugh got the first laugh on Twitter with Muhammad Wilkerson and the Jets, he’ll get the last one on the field in 2017.

New York Giants offensive guard Justin Pugh jokingly tweeted about an overabundance of New York Jets hats in an airport gift shop last week. The humor behind it? There were no New York Giants hats in sight as they were sold out.

Naturally, Pugh’s tweet got the attention of the always outspoken Muhammad Wilkerson, who responded and told Pugh that he would have a target on his back when the Jets and Giants meet next month in the preseason.

Take a look at the exchange on social media:

Wilkerson is great and respectable, but that’s a comical response.

Nobody in the NFL is intimidated by the Jets right now. Tanking is an understatement when describing the moves the team made this offseason. There is also nothing Mike Maccagnan can say to justify where they stand at this moment in time. The Jets are now worse than the Cleveland Browns of the past few years. I doubt any opposing team is shaking in their boots at the thought of facing Gang Green.

Moreover, a guy without five fingers on one of his hands put up better stats than Wilkerson. Jason Pierre-Paul had seven sacks and 35 total tackles in 2016, whereas Wilkerson only had 4.5 sacks and 33 tackles.

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Wilkerson’s 2016 numbers dropped by 7.5 sacks and six tackles from the year before. He was barely ranked within the top 75 in sacks and was 256th in total sacks. Rather than focusing on the sales of Jets apparel and Twitter wars, Wilkerson may want to shift his focus to returning to the hard-hitting, intimidating beast that he used to be.

Succinctly, the Jets are the laughingstock of the NFL and Wilkerson is coming off of a down season. However, Pugh is supposedly the Jets star’s next target after jokingly (and truthfully) making reference to the Jets inferiority. By all accounts, there’s no way that Pugh is intimidated in the slightest.

The unfortunate truth is that Pugh has had an injury-riddled career in Big Blue, missing a handful of games in almost every season since he was drafted. Despite those obstacles, Pugh has managed to become a crucial part of the Giants offensive line. His absence would leave a massive hole in Eli’s protection that cannot be replaced.

What’s more, 2017 is a contract year for Pugh and there is always the potential that it will be his last within the Giants organization if his play does not speak for itself.  The G-Men re-signing one of the most important pieces of their offensive line should be a given, but there is always the possibility that a less-than-impressive season could change their minds.

In terms of squaring off with Wilkerson, though, Pugh has a great deal more to play for than the Jets defensive lineman. With a new contract and potentially a Super Bowl run on the line, that surely trumps anything that the Jets will be playing for in 2017.

Wilkerson at his best is a force to be reckoned with. However, he has not been performing at his best. Saying he has no talent would simply be absurd, but at this point given his recent performance, his talk comes off cheap.

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Of course, this is all without considering the fact that the preseason battle he made reference to is not even going to matter. It all comes down to the regular season and the Giants are looking like the favorites to come out of the NFC East. Ultimately, that’s why Pugh will get the last laugh. While he and the Giants are in the playoffs, Wilkerson will likely be sitting at home.