How badly do the Giants miss Xavier McKinney?

new york giants, xavier mckinney
New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) holds up at the ball at the end of the game of a regular season NFL football matchup Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The New York Giants defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] Jki 102322 Giants Jags Cp 19 Syndication Florida Times Union

New York Giants safety and team captain Xavier McKinney was playing at an elite level before breaking his hand in an ATV accident during their bye week.

Since the injury, the Giants are 1-2-1 after starting 6-2 with him in defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s secondary for the first eight games.

Clearly, the Giants are missing a key piece to their defense and need him to return sooner rather than later to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Giants are missing McKinney’s production:

In McKinney’s absence, Julian Love has assumed the leadership role in the secondary, with some extra help from rookie Dane Belton and Jason Pinnock.

Those three have been unable to produce the same level of production that McKinney provided, as they have combined to give up three TDs and 292 yards in four games.

While those numbers are not overly concerning, McKinney was absolutely lockdown in the secondary, which is going to be difficult for replicate, leaving a huge void in the Giants’ secondary until he returns.

It is clear by simply looking at the numbers that McKinney is well missed in the Giants’ defense, and the film will also tell the same tale.

A prime example is in the Giants’ previous game this past Sunday against the Washington Commanders, a game that resulted in a 20-20 draw for the two division rivals.

Late in the fourth quarter, with New York up 20-13, Washington was facing a 4th and 4 situation with the game on the line. Commanders Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was rushed out of the pocket and forced to roll out left shortly after the snap.

Despite the immense pressure, Heinicke was able to sling the football deep downfield to a wide-open Curtis Samuel, who evaded the Giants’ secondary, setting up Washington with a new set of downs in a drive they would ultimately tie the game in.

The Giants really could have used McKinney’s elite pass coverage protection on this play, as just one stop would have out the Giants in the driver’s seat for a massive divisional victory.

Instead, New York continues to struggle after their strong start, and they still do not know when they will get their star safety back.

Xavier McKinney was shining before the injury:

McKinney is among one of the catalysts of this season’s rejuvenated and tenacious defensive unit for New York, as he has helped define the core of their unit.

The third-year pro out of Alabama has been exceptional in the eight games he’s played this year, especially in pass coverage, allowing just 105 yards and only one TD this season, compared to allowing three TDs last season.

He has also been impactful in the pass rush this season as well, recording a sack in 26 blitzes and forcing three pressures and two quarterback hurries.

In recent news, McKinney had the pins finally removed from his left hand, that required surgery. While his outlook on whether he will play again this season is still cloudy, McKinney is remaining optimistic that he could play again very soon before the regular season concludes.

“I think there’s always a chance”, McKinney told NJ Advance Media. “But knowing me, knowing how I am, obviously it’s killing me that I can’t be out here with the guys right now. Whatever I can do to get back, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Xavier McKinney via NJ.com

The Giants have another huge divisional game this upcoming Sunday against the 11-1 Philadelphia Eagles. McKinney is currently doubtful to play, but if he is able to return, that will be huge for the Giants.

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