The New York Giants‘ defense has struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks in recent seasons. The Giants lack a top edge rusher on their current roster. Markus Golden was a solid contributor in 2019, totaling 10 sacks, but he is not guaranteed to remain with the Giants in 2020. Now, with a new defensive scheme being installed and a new group of defenders added, where will the pass-rush come from in 2020?
Patrick Graham’s Defensive Scheme
The majority of the pass-rush will come from new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. Patrick Graham runs a blitz-heavy, man-to-man defense:
“Graham had a great defensive scheme in place. The two major play calls of the Miami defense were blitzing and man to man coverage. Graham was very clever with his blitzing packages, using a variety of linebacker and defensive back blitzes. In Miami, Graham would also send in delayed blitzes to really disturb an offense. This was not just done in between the gaps; the blitzes came from different spots on the field. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). The Dolphins ran man to man coverage 50% of the time in the 2019 season and would often show blitz and drop back into coverage. This was a great strategy in the Graham defense, keeping opposing offenses on their toes because of the constant blitzing formations.” – Jack Quartararo of Empire Sports Media
With an emphasis on blitzing, Patrick Graham will scheme together the Giants’ pass rush. The Giants’ defense will run many complex blitzes to get after opposing quarterbacks. But who will be executing these blitzes for the Giants?
The Giants do not have a top-tier edge rusher. None of the players on the team’s roster are expected to dominate opposing offensive lines and rack up 15 sacks in a season. However, the team has added some underrated players. These players fit perfectly into Patrick Graham’s scheme and will help him generate a pass rush.
Kyler Fackrell, the former Green Bay Packers edge rusher, was one of the Giants’ key additions in the 2020 offseason. In 2018, with a career-high in snaps, Kyler Fackrell recorded career-highs with 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 18 pressures. In 2019, though, Fackrell saw a huge decrease in playing time, being on the field for only 40% of the team’s snaps. Maybe reuniting with Graham and seeing an increase in playing time will lead to another 10+ sack season from Kyler Fackrell.
The Giants’ new addition in their secondary, safety Xavier McKinney, will also help boost the defense’s pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier recorded 21 pressures across 71 pass-rushing snaps in the last two years. He also totaled 3 sacks in each of his last two seasons. McKinney is an excellent pass-rusher from the safety position, making him a perfect fit in Patrick Graham’s blitz-heavy system.
In 2020, the New York Giants will have to implore a pass-rush by committee. The scheme will need to generate pressure to make up for the lack of a top-tier edge rusher on the team. Luckily for Patrick Graham, he has a group of underrated pass rushers at multiple positions that will help him get the job done.