The New York Giants had one of the most improved defenses in the NFL last season, ranking 9th in total points allowed per game with 22.3. Through the air, they were average, allowing 237.9 yards, but if yards allowed doesnâ€™t translate to points, it is an irrelevant statistic. Their ground game was right in line with their efficiency, allowing 111.4 yards, good for 10th in the NFL. Keep in mind, the unit dealt with injuries all year and a severe lack of talent at the outside linebacker position.
This off-season, they made it a priority to bring in several new pass rushers and bolstered the secondary, which go hand-in-hand toward achieving optimal success. A good secondary is essential when playing Cover-1 and focusing on man coverage. Trusting your corners to get it done on an island allows the defense to send extra blitzers and force mistakes from opposing quarterbacks.
However, the leaders on defense in terms of talent range positionally, and the Giants have several Pro Bowl-caliber athletes at multiple spots, which attests to their balanced strategy.
Ranking the top three players on the New York Giants:
1.) Leonard Williams
The elevation of Leonard Williams has proved to be one of the biggest upgrades on the Giants’ defense (nice one Dave). During his sixth season in the NFL in 2020, the 26-year-old interior defender recorded 11.5 sacks, 57 combined tackles, 30 QB hits, and 40 tackles for a loss. It was by far his best season, thanks to Patrick Graham’s scheme and a reliance on his pass rush moves to impact the game in the trenches. If he can replicate his statistical output this upcoming season, the Giants could easily have a top-five defense in the NFL, and after being paid handsomely for his impact, most are expecting another dominant performance in 2021.
2.) James Bradberry
One of the most lucrative off-season signings the Giants made last season was the acquisition of James Bradberry, a former Carolina Panther and Dave Gettleman draft pick. The lead by example corner had his best season to date, earning a Pro Bowl appearance at 27 years old. Heading into his sixth season in the league, Bradberry recorded three interceptions, a career-high 18 pass breakups, and 54 tackles last season as the Giants’ top defensive back. Having a high-end CB1 is essential for success, and the Giants found a player who is building and not stagnating.
3.) Blake Martinez
While several players could be in contention for the third-best player on the defense, including Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers, the impact Blake Martinez had last season cannot go unnoticed.
Martinez recorded a franchise-high 151 tackles, including 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception over 16 games. Having played every single game over the past four seasons, Martinez battled through a lower back injury late in the campaign but still manage to feature as the Giants’ primary middle linebacker. He is their stoic leader in the middle of the field, mitigating big plays at the second level and communicating with the defense as a primary vocalist.
Having set a career-low 6.2% missed tackle rate, Martinez is also enjoying the luxury of Grahamâ€™s defensive scheme, which allows him to maneuver freely in the middle of the field and rush the passer on occasion, creating confusion for opposing offenses. Heâ€™s essentially the Logan Ryan of the linebacker core and is a key cog in stopping the run.
How would you rank the Giants’ top 3 defenders? Comment below!