New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is known for his unique blitz packages and incorporating man coverage into his scheme. In 2020, the lack of talent at CB2 forced the Giants to play more zone coverage, deploying their safeties to fill weaknesses in the defensive backfield.
Players like Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Xavier McKinney filled voids that Isaac Yiadom and Ryan Lewis left in coverage while leaving James Bradberry to fend for himself on an island.
Bradberry ended up being one of the most essential pieces to the Giants’ defense in 2020, recording 14 pass breakups and locking down some of the best receivers in the NFL. For example, in week two against the Chicago Bears, Bradberry enjoyed 33 coverage snaps, limiting Pro-Bowl receiver Allen Robinson to 14 yards and recorded an interception. He consistently dominated quality pass-catchers, including Amari Cooper, DK Metcalf, and DeAndre Hopkins.
Opposing offenses started to recognize how good Bradberry was playing and overpowered the ball to the Giants’ weak spot. Gettleman and Co. realized it was a position they must upgrade this off-season.
How did the New York Giants solve their void at CB2?
In need of a quality corner to pair with Bradberry, general manager Dave Gettleman and the coaching staff elected to sign Adoree Jackson to a three-year, $39 million deal, formally of the Tennessee Titans. A close friend to Logan Ryan, Jackson brings an aggressive, man coverage style to the Giants, which fits exactly what Graham likes to deploy. Having played 50% cover-1 in 2019 with Miami dolphins, Graham seems all but set to return to his roots, utilizing a creative blend of blitzes and relying on his corners to hold it down in coverage.
Maximizing both James and Adoree should not be hard, but if you look into their styles of play, you can adequately match them up with specific types of receivers.
Bradberry plays a more finesse style, utilizing a trail technique and off-ball man coverage to read routes and break quickly. He doesnâ€™t have elite make-up speed, so heâ€™s better against premier route runners with average downfield speed. Jackson, on the other hand, is an aggressive corner with incredible make-up speed, making him a suitable match-up against go-route receivers.
For example, if you have a player like Jalen Reagor or Michael Gallup on Dallas, Jackson will do a solid job limiting their downfield play-making abilities, given his physical style of play and ability to make up ground on deep balls.
Taking a look at Bradberry, he allowed 10.3 yards per reception in 2020, and Jackson gave up 12.3 yards per reception in 2019, his last healthy season. This indicates that QBs are targeting Jackson on deeper routes, as he allowed 479 yards over 16 games, including just two touchdowns. He hosted the best coverage grade of his career with an 82.5, but is also an adequate tackler and is not afraid to get dirty in the run game.
I believe the combination of Bradberry and Jackson could end up being one of the premier cornerback duos in the NFL. If Graham utilizes them properly, which I imagine he will, they can really extract the most potential out of both players, allowing the pass rush to do their job and get after the quarterback sufficiently.