The New York Giants secondary will have its hands full this Saturday as they face the high-flying Eagles offense that features two of the NFL’s most dynamic wide receivers. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith both have the ability to put up 100 yards and wreck a defense in any game. If the Giants want to pull off the upset win in the Divisional Round, they will need to find a way to limit Brown and Smith on Saturday night.
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How the Giants can limit AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith:
AJ Brown had the best season of his career in 2022, totaling a career-high 1,496 receiving yards, 88 receptions, and 11 touchdowns. Brown was voted a second-team All-Pro for his dominant regular season. In his two matchups with the Giants in the regular season, AJ Brown posted a combined eight receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown. However, in both of those matchups, Giants starting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was out of the lineup with a knee injury.
Adoree’ Jackson made his return to the lineup in the Giants’ Wild Card win over the Vikings. Jackson shadowed Vikings’ first-team All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson in the contest. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Adoree’ Jackson lined up across from Justin Jefferson on 85% of Jefferson’s routes. On those plays, Jefferson totaled just six receptions for 37 yards (via Field Yates). The Giants will likely have Jackson shadow Brown in this weekend’s Divisional matchup.
Things become complicated, though, when trying to determine who might match up against DeVonta Smith. The Eagles’ 2021 first-round pick also had a career year in 2022, hauling in 95 receptions for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith posted a combined 12 receptions for 131 yards and one touchdown in his two games against the Giants this season.
The Giants’ secondary has been thinned out with injuries all season long, but it has taken a step forward in recent weeks. Players like Fabian Moreau and Darnay Holmes have elevated their play for the postseason. Holmes has been starting in the slot for the Giants. Moreau has been guarding the opposing team’s secondary receivers. A combination of Moreau and Holmes will be the likely defensive backs called upon to slow down DeVonta Smith, however, there could be another option.
The Giants could call upon rookie cornerback Cor’Dale Flott to match up against DeVonta Smith. Flott forced a key pass breakup on the final drive of the game last week to help the Giants secure the victory. He’s a lanky corner with the right speed and size combination to match up with DeVonta Smith in man coverage.
Slowing down the Philadelphia Eagles’ dynamic passing attack will not be easy, but it is the key to securing the victory on Saturday. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are game-breaking wide receivers. If the Giants can figure out a way to slow them down, they could find themselves with a chance at advancing to the NFC Conference Championship.