The New York Giants have a great problem brewing on defense, and it’s simply having too much quality talent. With a patchwork secondary last season, coordinator Patrick Graham managed to curate one of the league’s top defensive units, which finished the season ranking in the top 10 in points allowed per game. Having elevated a unit that was expected to be dragging behind the offense, the Giants further bolstered the group this off-season, providing Graham with the personnel to have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Management prioritized the finding of a few efficient pass rushers, which the Giants will deploy in tandem with their strong interior defense. For example, Azeez Ojulari with Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams should pay dividends in creating mismatches and exposing opposing offensive lines.
A healthy blend of speed and strength upfront will aid a re-tooled secondary, lead by fresh signing Adoree’ Jackson. The cornerback duo of James Bradberry and Jackson will prove to be lethal, as both have different strengths that can lock down opposite receivers, whether it be big possession targets or speedy pass-catchers who can create separation in the open field.
Just taking a look at the projected roster, you can see how much depth the Giants have and how Graham is going to struggle fielding so many talented players and spreading the snaps around.
Projected 53-man positional groupings on defense:
-Julian Love (safety too)
To give you an example of how the Giants might struggle to field some of their best players next season with a wealth of talent available, let’s take a look at the safety trio. Both Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney play similar positions in the deep secondary, which will likely force Graham to move one of them down into a strong safety role. However, that is where Jabrill Peppers usually resides, potentially pushing the energized safety down further into the box as a money-backer, so to speak.
This would allow Peppers to utilize his run-stopping instincts while also covering running backs and tight ends, which is normally his best usage. However, with three safeties on the field, the Giants will have to utilize their sub-packages strategically, incorporating two middle linebackers and outside linebackers to provide sufficient pass rush.
One way I can see Graham maximizing his personal groupings is the play more Cover-1, which is exactly what he plans to do in 2021.
This is how I project to start a group to look like in his formation:
1.) Logan Ryan
2.) Xavier McKinney
3.) James Bradberry
4.) Adoree’ Jackson
5.) Blake Martinez
6.) Jabrill Peppers ($-backer role)
7.) Leonard Williams
8.) Dexter Lawrence
9.) Danny Shelton
10.) Azeez Ojulari
11.) Lorenzo Carter
Of course, Graham will be versatile in his alignments and rotating players frequently to keep them fresh and active. He’s traditionally relied on Cover-1, but it will force him to pick and choose his personnel. Nonetheless, having too much talent is a great problem, and ultimately, it will help mitigate fatigue as an unusually long season in 2021 moves along.