The Giants have a significant weakness in the middle of their defense

New York Giants, Tae Crowder
Oct 23, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants linebacker Tae Crowder (48) reacts after a play against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants host about an average defense in the NFL this season, allowing 22.6 points per game. However, when it comes to yardage, they’re giving up 366.3 per week, ranking 27th.

With a number of significant injuries bogging down their efficiency, the Giants have tried to supplement losses with a great scheme predicated on blitzing opposing quarterbacks. The production from rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux has certainly made an impact, and when Azeez Ojulari is active, he is nearly impossible to stop in pass-rush situations.

The New York Giants need linebacker help:

Despite success at OLB, the Giants’ defense has a significant weakness right in the middle, notably the linebacker position. Considering Tae Crowder started the year as their primary MIKE linebacker and was relegated to the inactive list several weeks ago, it is clear they need a few significant upgrades in the future.

Crowder now features with the Pittsburgh Steelers after being claimed off the Giants’ practice squad, posting a career-high 23.7% missed tackle rate this season. He accrued 28 tackles with 14 stops in the run game, including a defensive touchdown, but he’s otherwise been a massive liability in both coverage and against the run.

In his stead, Jaylon Smith and Micah McFadden have taken over. Smith has been decent for the Giants this season, tallying 55 tackles, 28 stops in the run game, and an 82.1% completion rate against in coverage. He’s only allowed a 6.2% missed tackle rate, a solid number that far outplays Crowder, which is why he lost his job at the end of the day.

McFadden, on the other hand, has struggled as a rookie fifth-round pick out of Indiana. He hosts a 9.1% missed tackle right with 29 tackles and 13 stops. He’s gotten more playing time recently with Crowder being relegated, but the Giants have also tried to get Landon Collins in the mix as a hybrid option.

As you can see, having bad linebackers is destructive to a team’s success against the run and in coverage against tight ends. Just take a look at what Roquan Smith did for the Baltimore Ravens after he was traded this year. The Ravens’ defense went from 20th in points per game to 2nd after the trade, including a myriad of other positive statistical benefits.

A lockdown linebacker not only communicates plays more efficiently but also shows up in key moments against the run. The Giants simply don’t have a player of that caliber, but they should 100% be looking for one this upcoming off-season, whether it be in free agency or via the draft. A few options that will be available on the market include Deion Jones from Cleveland, Lavonte Davis, Devin Bush, and Roquan Smith, who is currently transforming the Ravens’ defense.

I would be very surprised if general manager Joe Schoen didn’t allocate some of his financial resources toward bolstering the position, utilizing his drive capital to help at the wide receiver spot, given its lack of depth. The team still has Wan’Dale Robinson recovering from an ACL injury, Sterling Shepard possibly returning on a cheap deal, and the discovery of Isaiah Hodgins, which has been a revelation down the stretch.

However, the team has plenty of needs to go around and only so much capital, so it will be interesting to see how Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll spread the wealth.