The Giants landed a starting safety from Jets’ roster misstep

New York Giants safety Jason Pinnock (27) intercepts a pass from Detroit Lions quarterback Nate Sudfeld (10) during the first half of a preseason game in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.

One man’s trash may indeed be another man’s treasure, and that’s precisely what the New York Giants found when they claimed Jason Pinnock off waivers from the Jets’ roster cuts following the 2022 preseason.

Pinnock, an original fifth-round pick from Pittsburgh, couldn’t find his footing with the Jets despite their glaring issues at safety. The Giants, however, saw potential, and he’s evolved into a starting defensive back within Wink Martindale’s aggressive defense.

Regret in Jets’ Headquarters: The Decision to Cut Pinnock

A year later, Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh still laments letting Pinnock go, a move that could’ve plugged a gaping hole in their defensive lineup.

“We hope we get him back on the practice squad,” Saleh added, “but with the waiver wire, you’re always playing roster roulette.’’

A Golden Opportunity: Pinnock’s Rise on the Giants’ Defense

For Pinnock, the shift to the Giants has been nothing short of a golden opportunity. With Julian Love’s departure to the Seattle Seahawks, the Giants were eyeing Pinnock as a potential starter at strong safety. Based on his impressive performances in training camp and the preseason, it seems the Giants found just what they were looking for.

Embracing the Challenge: Pinnock’s Drive and Stats

Pinnock, at 24 years of age, walked away from the Jets with a massive chip on his shoulder. He yearned for an opportunity to make a name for himself, and the Giants offered just that. Over 473 defensive snaps, Pinnock made his presence felt.

“I always play with a chip on my shoulder, so that just gave me another one,’’ he said, via the New York Post. “I knew wherever I landed I would find a way. I was blessed athletically and I knew once the position clicked for me, I knew it would be over, I would have a chance in this league.’’

The 6-foot, 205-pound safety accumulated impressive stats: 36 tackles, nine stops, a 13% missed tackle rate, and he allowed just 161 yards in coverage along with one touchdown. He also notched two pass breakups and forced a fumble, signaling clear progression. Especially noteworthy were his tackling grades in the season’s second half and his coverage plays, primarily as a free safety, when Xavier McKinney was sidelined with a finger injury.

Versatility as a Virtue: Pinnock’s Positional Flexibility

Pinnock’s utility doesn’t stop at safety; he also contributed at other spots on the field. With 41 snaps around the defensive line, 81 in the box, and 317 at free safety, he showed his adaptability. Additionally, he took 27 snaps in the slot but is expected to settle into the strong safety role, where he’ll bolster the run defense.

The Ideal Scheme: Pinnock’s Play Style and Fit with the Giants

The aggressive, flexible defensive scheme Martindale employs is an ideal fit for Pinnock’s skill set. He can rush the passer as effectively as he can drop back into coverage, a testament to his athletic versatility.

“It was kind of a blessing in disguise, because I fell into a scheme that fits me and ran with it. It was about being able to get an opportunity. That’s it, that’s all I ever needed was getting an opportunity to run with the [starters] and show what I could do and show what I am.’’

New Additions and Future Prospects: The Giants’ Rebuilt Secondary

This offseason, the Giants have overhauled their defensive secondary, adding Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins to the fold. Pinnock is finally poised to start alongside McKinney, with Adoree Jackson projected to move into the slot. While the unit might face some early challenges as they gel, the immense talent, combined with a dominant defensive line, holds promise for pressuring opposing quarterbacks effectively.

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