Last season, the New York Giants’ defense took a massive step forward in efficiency and production. Going from the 30th ranked defense in points allowed per game to the 9th in 2020, an unexpected rise to adequacy was welcomed by the fan base and coaching staff. However, the Giants decided they didn’t want just a good defense, they wanted a great defense.
Instead of letting the unit stagnate and simply retain the same players, the Giants added more sufficient talent, including Cornerback Adoree Jackson and pass rusher Azeez Ojulari.
The one position that has experienced a major transformation is the CB unit, thanks to the signing of James Bradberry in 2020 as a free agent. Let’s not discount the impact that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his assistant coaches have had on this defense.
The Giants passing defense had stellar moments or, rather, individual performers that stood above the rest. Bradberry had a phenomenal first year with Big Blue, enjoying a 79.9 overall coverage grade, allowing just three touchdowns, two of which came in week one against Pittsburgh. Bradberry allowed just a 56.4% completion percentage against him when most quarterbacks average above 62%.
The primary issue was his counterpart, Isaac Yiadom, and the rotation at CB2 the Giants experimented with throughout the campaign. They turned what obviously was a weakness heading into the 2020 season into a strength this off-season, as Jackson could end up performing like a top corner while facing off against lesser receivers opposite Bradberry.
Here’s a look at the differences between the New York Giants CB unit after this off-season:
2020 CB unit:
2021 CB Unit:
I believe that there will be a few cuts, as Sam Beal could end up hitting the streets after missing the past two years due to injury and opting out as a result of Covid.
However, I believe the Giants are ready to move on from Beal after the signing of Jackson for three years, $39 million. Jackson’s last quality season came in 2019 when he enjoyed a fantastic coverage grade and allowed just 479 yards. Having missed a majority of 2020 due to a knee injury, Jackson is ready to bounce back in a big way, and with Logan Ryan, one of his good friends, helping recruit him to the Giants, there’s already a sense of familiarity and comfort.
I believe that a massive step forward in the secondary should be anticipated this season, and it starts with the injection of an aggressive, man-cover scheme that Graham has utilized in the past. As a defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2019, Graham utilized cover-1 on 50% of snaps, indicating he felt good about his corners in press-man so he could get more creative with blitzes. I believe that is what he will accomplish with the Giants this upcoming season, having two lock-down corners to help fuel his imagination.
The Giants don’t only have starting talent, though, they also have adequate depth, with Julian Love, Yiadom, and the drafting of Aaron Robinson. Every great team has plenty of depth at positions of necessity, and the Giants ensured they would be ready for any speed bumps along the way.