After two weeks of regular season play, the New York Giants defense has allowed 882 yards and nine touchdowns (NFL.com). Most of this production has come at the expense of rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker and the secondary. Baker, one of college’s dominant press cornerbacks in 2018, has been slaughtered in the defensive backfield.
Note a specific about Baker mentioned above — he’s a press-corner. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme has forced Baker to play off-ball coverage, a weakness in his game and a skill he’s attempting to learn during consequential competition. This preseason, Baker looked excellent in coverage and locked down Giants receivers in practice, but those successes haven’t translated against actual opponents. His confidence seems to be degrading at an astronomical rate.
Former New York Giants legend Carl Banks gave his opinion on the matter over twitter:
I haven’t spoken to Deandre Baker but I assure you his head is spinning and overloaded with information.. how do I know? He did something that defies the basic instincts of playing CB Exhibit A.. Beasley 51yd completion, Baker turned and followed the wr up the seam
The basic instinct of any corner should be to cover the boundary route and not favor the seam where the safety should be present. Baker bit on the seam route and allowed a 51-yard completion to Cole Beasley.
51-yard pass to Cole Beasley.
Looks to me like cover-3 and both Deandre Baker (27) and Antoine Bethea (41) mark the wrong receiver.
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 15, 2019
Not only does Baker follow the wrong man, but it seems as if he reacted to Antoine Bethea double-teaming No. 16 with Janoris Jenkins running step by step beside him. Bethea, a veteran in the secondary and a supposed leader, cannot make mental mistakes that force Baker to make decisions like this. If it weren’t Beasley making the catch, it would have been No. 88 streaking down the middle for a score.
Moving forward, Baker needs to be given the autonomy to press-cover, his strength. It’s possible the Giants are testing him and giving him the time to refine his off-ball coverage skills, but they’re now 0-2 with a vast majority of the blame on Baker and the secondary.
Bettcher’s scheme might not fit the style of the players on the roster. I’m a fan of the 3-4 defense, especially with Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill upfront, but the outside linebacker/pass rushers aren’t producing enough, which ultimately hurts the secondary.