New York Giants: What’s Going On With DeAndre Baker?

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker
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The New York Giants‘ secondary has been one of the league’s worst over the past two years. In 2017, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.4 passing yards per game (ranked 31st in the NFL). In 2018, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.8 passing yards (ranked 23rd in the NFL), showing minimal to no improvement. Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the Giants’ pass defense somehow looks even worse.

DeAndre Baker is a first-round rookie corner back that has struggled immensley transitioning to the NFL these first two weeks. He needs to improve in a hurry if the Giantss want to win games this season. But is DeAndre Baker fully to blame for his poor performance or are there other factors involved?

How Bad Has He Been?

DeAndre Baker was a strong prospect coming out of college. He was well worth the first-round pick that the Giants spent on him and could have easily been picked higher. Unfortunately, that impact has not been seen yet on the field for Big Blue.

Through two games, DeAndre Baker has allowed 11 receptions on 13 targets, 272 yards, 2 TD’s, and a 158.3 passer rating to opposing to QB’s. Opposing quarterbacks have been simply picking on Baker and his inexperience.

DeAndre Baker has been a huge liability on the Giants’ defense so far. For a rookie that had so much promise coming out of college, it sure has been disappointing to watch him fail to live up to the hype so far. But maybe his poor performance is not all his fault.

Is James Bettcher To Blame?

Many will make the case that DeAndre Baker’s recent struggles are not to his own fault. Some will argue that defensive coordinator James Bettcher is truly to blame. It is likely that both Baker’s and Bettcher’s performances are working hand in hand.

The Giants’ defense has been caught making numerous mistakes that demonstrate an overarching issue from the coaching position. Multiple times per game, the Giants’ defense is seen making a miscommunication that leads to a huge gain for the opposing offense.

Below is an animated clip from the Giants’ week two loss against the Buffalo Bills. On the play being animated, the Giants were completely confused while running a basic cover three defense, causing them to let up a 51-yard gain to Cole Beasley.

DeAndre Baker made a mistake on this play. But so did Antoine Bethea. Bethea is a fourteen-year, 35 year-old veteran safety that has played in James Bettcher’s system before as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. So why is it that both Baker and Bethea made a mistake on this play?

Both players, the veteran and the rookie, made a mistake and mixed up the coverage assignments on this play. These mistakes occur far too frequently for the blame to be placed solely on one rookie cornerback. Granted, Baker has a lot to improve on, but he is not the only one struggling to find their place in this defense.

Here is another play to demonstrate the bigger issue on defense (James Bettcher). This is a crucial 3rd-and-4 early in the first quarter. The Bills had receiver Cole Beasley out wide to the left, matched up against him was DeAndre Baker. In this third and short situation, one would expect the Giants’ cornerbacks to be in press coverage to keep the Bills from gaining the short four yards underneath. Instead, Bettcher calls a play that puts DeAndre Baker six yards away from the line of scrimmage.

The Bills picked up this first down on a slant route to Cole Beasley. Because DeAndre Baker was playing so far off of Beasley, he was allowed to run this slant with a free release and no cornerback guarding him as he cut towards the middle of the field.

This is poor situational play-calling. Simple pitch and catch for the Buffalo Bills. Sure, this is technically DeAndre Baker’s fault for allowing his matchup to make the catch and gain the first down. But why is James Bettcher not calling plays that require DeAndre Baker to be playing press coverage in this situation.

The tweet also points out something very important to consider when breaking down this play: DeAndre Baker is a press-man cornerback. That is what he was good at in college. That is what he will be good at in the NFL. Baker is physical at the line of scrimmage. James Bettcher needs to be aware of this and needs to scheme his defense according to his players’ strengths and weaknesses.

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