As if playing with Daniel Jones wasnâ€™t enough for the New York Giants, star quarterback James Bradberry came in close contact with a positive COVID case, forcing him to miss Sundayâ€™s game against the Cleveland Browns.
With the Giants losing to the Arizona Cardinals in week 14 and Washington walking away with two improbable wins to take control of the NFC East, every game is important for a Giants team that is fighting to make the playoffs.
If theyâ€™re forced to play without Jones and donâ€™t have their best defender, arguably, it will test coordinator Patrick Grahamâ€™s abilities. He has been phenomenal supplementing losses this season, as injuries have influenced nearly every position. The question is, how can you replace the production of not only one of the best players on the Giants but in the entire NFL?
So far in 2020, Bradberry has a 78.3 overall grade, per PFF. He has allowed the ninth-worst passing rating for NFL quarterbacks against him this season at 70.4. Over the past five games, Bradberry hasnâ€™t allowed over 23 yards in four of them. He also leads the league in pass breakups (17).
How are the New York Giants supplement the loss of James Bradberry against Cleveland?
Looking at the secondary, the cornerback position was already thin, and now the Giants are down their best player. I imagine they will take Logan Ryan, a former cornerback, and utilize him in the slot against Jarvis Landry predominantly. He is the most experienced of the bunch out of Julian Love and Xavier McKinney, so this matchup seems to be the most probable.
This would indicate that McKinney plays a much larger role against Cleveland, having played in 39 snaps last week against AZ. He was on the field for 12 run defense snaps and 22 coverage snaps, rushing the pass on five occasions. He allowed four receptions for 14 yards, totaling three tackles and two quarterback hurries.
Xavier enjoyed the most action heâ€™s had all season since coming back from a fractured foot. I expect him to take the role of Ryan in centerfield, spying on the quarterback and maneuvering from the box to the secondary.
Since McKinney is expected to take over for Ryan, this will force Love to stay at free safety and Peppers to man up against tight ends and play the run. Peppers has been stellar this season, seeing an improvement in coverage grades and playing phenomenally against the run. All four of the Giantsâ€™ safeties will have to be on the field helping supplement the loss of Bradberry, but there simply is no replacement for him.
The Browns have a fantastic running game but also a high-octane passing attack as well. Stopping them will be incredibly difficult, so the Giants must waste time off the clock while on offense, running the ball frequently and relying on Wayne Gallman to do the dirty work.