The Giants’ safety position was heavily disappointing in 2018. Big Blue started safety Curtis Riley in all 16 games, despite him being one of the worst-graded safeties in the NFL. He posted a 58.1 overall Pro Football Focus grade which ranked 79th in the league at his position. Riley missed a position-high 23 tackles in 2018.
Fortunately, Dave Gettleman and the Giants have upgraded their safety position. They let Landon Collins walk in free agency to avoid paying him a record-breaking contract, but they traded for a super talented, young safety (Jabrill Peppers) to replace Landon Collins.
Opposite of Jabrill Peppers, the Giants signed veteran safety Antoine Bethea. Bethea will mentor Jabrill Peppers for the foreseeable future, using his 13 years of experience to teach the 3rd year safety.
Why Bethea Will Be An Excellent Mentor:
Antoine Bethea signed with the New York Giants to provide consistency and stability to the backend. Bethea has been in the league for 13 years. He is now 34 years old, but still highly efficient.
In 2018, Antoine Bethea totaled an impressive 121 tackles, 4 passes defended, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Bethea played as a strong safety for the majority of his career, but he converted to free safety in 2018. Antoine Bethea will play free safety with the New York Giants.
This will give Jabrill Peppers the opportunity to play strong safety with the Giants. Peppers is primed for a breakout season with Big Blue in 2019. He flashed his potential in 2018 after improving his tackle total to 79 and his PFF grade to 77.6 (19th in the league).
Peppers is a truly versatile, do-it-all safety. Fortunately for Peppers, Antoine Bethea was once a swiss-army-knife on the backend, too.
In 2007, Bethea was more of a pass-defending, speedy safety. He allowed just a 50.2 passer rating in coverage in 2007, logging 4 picks and 3 pass breakups in the process. Now, he is a run-defending, pass-rushing ace in the secondary.
In 2018, Bethea recorded 12 total pressures (six hurries, three hits, three sacks) across 42 pass-rush snaps. He was the most productive pass-rushing safety in the league last season.
Bethea’s evolution as a player over the past 13 years has been marvelous to watch. Antoine has adjusted his versatile game to a playing style that fits his age. Age has turned Bethea into a bit more of a one-dimensional player, but this his prior experiences will come in handy as he mentors Jabrill Peppers.
Antoine Bethea and Jabrill Peppers are already connecting. According to head coach Pat Shurmur, Peppers and Bethea are “working well together.” Both of these safeties have come up with highlight interceptions during spring practices. The tandem is looking sharp and ready to compete in 2019.
— New York Giants (@Giants) May 20, 2019