Giants safety turns in disappointing performance amidst contract-year

nfl: new york giants at san francisco 49ers, xavier mckinney
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In a crucial contract year, New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney is faced with high expectations to prove his worth and secure a lucrative extension. However, his recent performance in Big Blue’s 30–12 loss against the San Francisco 49ers was far from impressive, raising concerns about his future with the team.

McKinney’s roller-coaster performance showcased moments of brilliance but ultimately highlighted inconsistencies and areas of improvement that cannot be ignored.

Xavier McKinney was not himself in Week 3

Initially, McKinney displayed exceptional promise during the game. He made his presence known early by tackling running back Christian McCaffrey on the first play of the game. Mckinney was all over the field and was making crucial tackles.

However, as the game progressed, fatigue set in, and he appeared to wear down, struggling against stronger opponents and committing costly mistakes. This decline in performance cast a shadow over his earlier contributions, ultimately tarnishing his overall impact on the game.

The Giants’ defensive unit as a whole struggled against the 49ers, particularly in tackling. Unfortunately, fellow captain McKinney did not fare any better earning his performance an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 60.5. Additionally, McKinney’s tackling grade of just 48.0 is an area of concern.

McKinney has been struggling in coverage this season

In addition to tackling issues, McKinney also struggled in coverage. He allowed two receptions on three targets, resulting in 44 receiving yards for the 49ers. With a reception percentage of 66.7%, there were clear lapses in his ability to defend against opposing receivers. As a safety, McKinney’s primary responsibility is to provide strong coverage in the secondary, and his inability to consistently do so does raise some questions.

Unfortunately for McKinney, this disappointing performance against the 49ers is not an isolated incident. In the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, he showcased flashes of brilliance amidst a 40-0 blowout loss. However, in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, he missed tackles, allowed Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs to run through him and score a touchdown, and even had a brutal penalty called on him for unnecessary roughness early on in the first quarter.

Can the Giants rely on McKinney?

Another factor contributing to McKinney’s uncertain future is his past injury history. As a rookie, he missed ten games due to a fractured foot, and in the 2022 season, he missed eight games because of a severe hand injury. While he had an outstanding 2021 season with five interceptions and ten passes defensed, the recurring injuries raise doubts about his long-term durability and reliability.

Despite his inconsistencies, McKinney is regarded as a leader within the Giants’ defense. As a proven leader and playmaker, McKinney must reflect on this performance, address areas of improvement, and demonstrate his value to the team in upcoming games. With a chance to redeem himself against the Seattle Seahawks next week, he has the chance to reclaim his position as an integral part of the Giants’ defense and make a compelling case for a contract extension.

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