Joe Judge and the New York Giants respond to embarrassing loss to the 49ers

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants suffered an embarrassing loss today to the San Fransisco 49ers. The 49ers, starting backup and reserve players all over, blew the Giants out 36-9 as New York’s offense never ran a single play in the red zone.

Head coach Joe Judge met with the media forty-five minutes after the game concluded. Presumably, Judge was chewing into his players after a pathetic Week Three performance that saw the team drop to 0-3, once again.

Joe Judge On The Plan Going Forward

The Giants have yet to stumble into a victory in 2020. New York’s 27-point defeat has left fans disappointed and uncertain about the team’s future. For Joe Judge, it is all about “day-to-day improvement.” Judge recognizes a “tough opponent” is once again on the Giants’ schedule entering Week Four, and the Giants need to be better than they were this week.

We’re not looking for excuses, not pointing fingers, not looking for shortcuts. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we will put a product on the field people of this area can be proud of. We’ll be working our butt off to improve the product going forward. – Joe Judge via Matt Lombardo

Judge and the Giants are making no excuses. He is holding himself and his team accountable and hoping to improve for the future. Judge plans to “go out there day by day and piece by piece to put this together.”

Leonard Williams

The Giants’ defense struggled to get off the field on third down all game. When asked about this Leonard Williams did not point any fingers, but noted that he needs to get to the quarterback faster and the team as a whole needs to do better.

Per Jordan Raanan, Leonard Williams stated that he thinks the Giants are “right there” and that they need to fix a few “small” errors/mistakes in order to turn things around.

Blake Martinez

Giants linebacker Blake Martinez also mentioned the small little things in his postgame press conference. He suspects they will “show up on the tape,” as does Joe Judge. However, many fans will likely agree that the tape is not needed to identify many of these mistakes.

Daniel Jones

In the first quarter, the Giants made a crucial mistake, turning the ball over on a pitch play to Evan Engram. Jones took the blame for this, stating that it was “just a poor pitch.” Jones and the Giants worked on that play all week in practice.

He also took accountability for his second turnover in the game. Jones conceded that his interception to Evan Engram in the second quarter was a “poor decision.”

Jones and the Giants are “disappointed” but their confidence has not wavered. The Giants must “take [the loss] and learn from it.” Moving forward, the Giants will continue to work hard and prepare for Week Four. Jones said “nothing” will change that. The Giants will try to “not let this situation define” them.

New York Giants: Blake Martinez One Of The Best LBs In The NFL Through Two Weeks

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency this offseason when they signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. The former Packers linebacker signed a three-year contract worth more than $30 million. So far, Martinez has lived up to his lofty price tag and been worth every penny.

Through two weeks in the 2020 NFL season, Blake Martinez has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

Blake Martinez Stats and Highlights

According to Pro Football Focus, Blake Martinez is the second-highest graded linebacker in the NFL after two weeks. Martinez has earned an impressive grade of 87.4 overall with an elite 92.0 run-defense grade.

Martinez is an excellent run defender who has clogged holes and made plays for the Giants’ defense. Throughout his career, Martinez has struggled in coverage. But he has not been asked to drop back in coverage very much this year.

Blake Martinez reunited with Patrick Graham when he signed with the Giants this offseason. Graham was a former linebackers coach and run game coordinator for the Packers in 2018 when Blake Martinez had the best season of his career. Martinez said that his role changed in the Packers’ new defense in 2019, which led to some struggles in his performance.

Now, under Graham’s scheme once again, Martinez has been playing to his strengths and thriving in this run-defending and pass-rushing role. According to Pro Football Reference, Martinez has only been targeted in coverage 4 times in two games. He has also blitzed 10 times in two games. In 2019, Martinez only blitzed 24 times in 16 games.

Blake Martinez is thriving in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. He has already recorded 21 combined tackles and 7 tackles for loss in two weeks. If Martinez continues to perform at this high level, the Giants’ defense will continue to be a pleasant surprise for fans as the season wears on.

New York Giants: Silver Linings From Week One vs Pittsburgh

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants suffered a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night. After getting off to a good start, the Giants squandered their lead and ultimately lost the game by two possessions. The final score was 26-16.

Despite this loss, there was plenty to like about the Giants’ performance in Week One. Some Solid performances on both sides of the football can encourage Giants fans heading into the second week of the season.

The Silver Linings

Daniel Jones

The Giants’ second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones, played a great game on Monday night. However, he did turn the ball over twice, and it cost the Giants big-time. But outside of those two turnovers, Jones was impressive as can be in Week One.

The Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. Their run-defense and pass-rush were elite last night. The Steelers held Saquon Barkley to 6 rushing yards and pressured Daniel Jones on 26 of his passing attempts. Jones was pressured 6 times more than any other quarterback in the NFL in Week One.

Despite having pressure in his face constantly, and despite not having a solid run game to rely on, Daniel Jones stood in the pocket and made some of the best throws of his career. Jones totaled 279 yards and 2 touchdown passes on 26 attempts.

Jones was particularly good when targeting the middle of the field. When targeting the middle, Jones completed 13 of his 15 passing attempts for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones was also superb on third down and carried the Giants’ offense at times. If Jones can continue to play at this level while keeping the turnovers down and receiving more help from his offensive line, 2020 could be the year Jones establishes himself as a franchise quarterback.

The Front Seven

The Giants enjoyed multiple impressive performances in their front seven. No one was more impressive than newly-signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Martinez recorded 11 tackles (tied for the most of all linebackers in Week One) en route to an 83.9 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. Blake Martinez played like one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Week One.

Lorenzo Carter also had one of the best games of his career on Monday night. Carter recorded 3 pressures, nearly had a sack, and earned an 81.5 overall PFF grade this week. His 3 pressures were tied for the team lead along with Leonard Williams, another player who had an impressive performance.

Leonard Williams recorded a sack and 3 pressures in Week One. Another interior defensive lineman also recorded a sack, though. Dexter Lawrence, the big hog molly out of Clemson started his second season off on the right track, earning a sack in an impressive performance.

The Giants’ defense was most impressive in Week One. The front seven was excellent, seeing multiple players have some of the best individual performances of their careers. This was especially important as the defensive secondary struggled to contain Ben Roethlisberger and his playmakers. The Giants will want to see their front seven build off of an impressive performance in Week Two, while also hoping to see some improvement from their young and inexperienced secondary.

New York Giants receive good injury news on Blake Martinez

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants luckily escaped Friday’s scrimmage without any significant injuries. Unfortunately, the good news comes in the wake of rookie safety Xavier McKinney fracturing his foot and linebacker David Mayo requiring meniscus surgery.

The Giants are relatively thin at every defensive position, meaning any more injuries could be devastating to their 2020 hopes and dreams. Improvement is the goal for new head coach Joe Judge, and he has the talent to make it happen.

New York Giants injury report:

Blake Martinez:

The Giants signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez this off-season to a three-year deal. He is the cemented starter at one of the middle linebacker spots, but missed Friday’s scrimmage with an undisclosed injury. Joe Judge has made it apparent that releasing injury updates is not part of his master plan. Giving the media something to harp on and create stories around doesn’t help the team succeed, but rather fuels a fiery New York market.

However, keeping Martinez’s injury under wraps undoubtedly caused some concern. Luckily, he was back on the field on Sunday for practice. While the Giants had a walk-through and some light training following the scrimmage, seeing Martinez out there was a positive sign.

Darnay Holmes:

Darnay Holmes was injured in Friday’s scrimmage. He picked up a lower-body injury designation, but it didn’t seem too serious as he was walking around with Jabrill Peppers on the sideline. The Giants simply can’t afford to lose Holmes, who will be a starting corner this year with Sam Beal opting out of the season and DeAndre Baker on the commissioner’s exempt list.

A few days off and light practices should give Darnay plenty of time to heal and what seemed to be more of a stinger than anything.

Aside from Martinez and Holmes, the Giants are only missing TE Rysen John and defensive back Jawuarius Andrews.

 

New York Giants: Blake Martinez Absent In Practice With Unknown Reason

New York Giants, Blake Martinez, McManus Designs

New York Giants fans might have a reason to raise an eyebrow at the team’s new signing Blake Martinez, because the linebacker was absent from practice on Thursday and the reason why is currently unknown. While the team knows, that reason hasn’t reached the public yet.

From the way that Joe Judge described it, it doesn’t sound like too serious of an issue. Though, Judge did say that more info could come out in the future, indicating that there may or may not be a problem.

Joe Judge gives insight on the absence

“He’s just checking with the trainers on something. At this moment right here, I’m not overly concerned. He’s just kind of checking on something right now. We’ll let you know more information as we go,” Judge told the media about Martinez’s absence.

There’s a chance there’s nothing serious and we’ll see Martinez on the field again soon. But there’s also a chance that the trainers do find something, and if so, it would be a stroke of bad luck for the Giants. The team has already suffered an injury to David Mayo, who was expected to compete for a spot next to Martinez this season.

Now Martinez has missed a practice to check something with the trainers, Mayo is out injured, and his competitor Ryan Connelly is coming back from his own injury. It’s really not a lucky year for the Giants defense, which also lost Xavier McKinney for months because of injury.

Of course, there’s a chance that Martinez simply has the kind of minor injury scare that happens all the time in the NFL and that players walk back from easily. With a lot riding on Martinez and his future contributions to the linebacker spot this year, hopefully the absence is as simple as that.

New York Giants: Blake Martinez details how he will impact the defense

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants added several new faces to their defense in the offseason, former Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez among the most notable. New York and Martinez agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency.

Martinez, 26, finished with 155 combined tackles, three sacks, and one interception last season. For his career, the Stanford product has totaled 512 combined tackles, 10 sacks, and three interceptions.

The Giants are learning a new defense under first-year head coach Joe Judge, which will be administered by new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. They’ve been doing as such virtually this offseason due to COVID-19 restrictions.

How Blake Martinez intends to help the New York Giants:

Regarding his new Giants teammates, Martinez said on Thursday he wants to “make it seem like we’ve been friends for the last six months” at training camp (quotes are courtesy of tweets by Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

Martinez has familiarity with Graham as the latter was the Packers inside linebackers coach and run game coordinator in 2018. Martinez has said that Graham is “one of the smartest coaches” he has ever been around (quotes per Giants.com’s Michael Eisen).

“He’s probably one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever been around,” Martinez said. “Just his ability to get you ready within four to five days. Every single week my third year when he was my inside linebacker coach, I went into the games on Sunday feeling like I knew exactly what plays were going to happen and exactly what I had to do within our scheme. It just made each game so easy to play. That was the biggest thing I got from him throughout that year and got me so excited to be able to work with him again, obviously, coming up again this season.”

Martinez will spearhead an inside linebacker unit that includes David Mayo, who re-signed with the Giants on a three-year deal in the offseason, second-year player Ryan Connelly and seventh-round draft picks T.J. Brunson and Tae Crowder.

Martinez says he wants to be the “rock” of the Giants defense and thinks the team will be “in a good spot” if they make prudent decisions from a health standpoint.

Blake Martinez Projected As The Most Improved New York Giant For 2020

New York Giants, Blake Martinez, McManus Designs

The New York Giants need some improvements in 2020. There’s no question about it after the team drafted in the top five again this year, but it remains to be seen where that improved production will come from. Will Saquon Barkley have a bounce back season and compete for MVP? Will James Bradberry step up and become a top corner in the league? Or will this be the real breakout season for Daniel Jones?

According to NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund, the most improved player on the Giants this year isn’t going to be any of those names, but rather Blake Martinez. With a big hit against the cap, most fans also expect such improvements at this point.

Why the Giants will lean on Blake Martinez in 2020

The statistics say that Martinez was an active player with Green Bay in terms of tackling and getting involved in the play frequently. That skill lends itself well to the Giants, who have no other clear cut top name at middle linebacker.

Martinez made a tackle on 15.8 percent of his snaps (third-highest rate in the NFL among those with a minimum of 500 defensive snaps). The Giants’ defense, especially in the middle, will rely on Martinez’s effective play, likely requiring him to make even more tackles than the Packers’ defense required of him last season.

The Giants have been lacking in this area over the past few seasons and when Ryan Connelly started to stand out at inside linebacker, his season was ended early by an ACL tear. Now, it seems the team isn’t banking too heavily on Connelly coming back as a starter as they’ve invested big in Martinez instead.

Whether it’s a good or bad decision, the team’s move to bring him in on a deal that gives him the fifth highest cap hit on the team shows their intent to involve him heavily in their plans.

But is it enough to make Martinez the most improved player on the team this year? That’s a stretch, but we’ll have our first indications of just how good Martinez is going to be once training camp starts early next week, and Martinez and the rest of the new free agents finally hit the field in pads.

The New York Giants are taking a risky approach at linebacker

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants are taking a risk at linebacker in 2020, but the rebuild makes it necessary: 

The New York Giants are still in the middle of a full roster rebuild, and expecting every unit to play at a high-level is unrealistic. With a second-year quarterback and an entirely new secondary, Big Blue will face its fair share of troubles in 2020, but improvement is all we are asking for.

While some positions theoretically got better, the linebacker corps is still very unpredictable and lacks elite talent. The Giants went out and signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez, who brings experience as the MIKE linebacker who can stop the run and contain big plays. Martinez was often utilized in a vilifying scheme, noting that Green Bay didn’t value the middle linebacker position too much. He was forced to play zone coverage, Which affected his pass protection grades and efficiency.

The veteran defender will hopefully be an improvement over Alec Ogletree, but we won’t know until the regular season comes around, and we see his fit in the new defensive scheme, orchestrated by Patrick Graham.

The riskier spot is next to Martinez, where Ryan Connelly and a bevy of other players will compete for starting reps. The Giants seem optimistic that Connelly will return from a torn ACL in 2019 and play at a high-level. In four games, he posted 20 combine tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 passes offended, and 2 interceptions. He looked fantastic in a limited sample size, and if he can return to full health, Connelly will be the favorite to pair with Martinez at weakside linebacker.

Behind Connelly and Martinez is David Mayo, who signed a three year, $8.4 million deal this offseason. Mayo is a solid depth piece who can stop the run efficiently, but he is poor in coverage. Mayo played in 16 games for the Giants last year, tallying 52 solo tackles, 82 combined, 2.0 sacks, and allowed 19 completions on 29 targets, compiling a 65.5% completion rate against. One category he improved significantly in was his missed tackles. In 2018, he missed 26.3% of his tackles, which decreased more than 15% to 10.9% in 2019.

The Giants don’t have elite talent at linebacker — they have serviceable players that can hold down the fort while they continue to rebuild the roster. I anticipate they will look to bring in another player next year in the middle rounds of the draft or free agency, depending on how Connelly turns out. For now, we can expect them to enjoy some improvement after the replacement of Ogletree.

New York Giants: Why Blake Martinez Could Improve Drastically In Big Blue

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency this offseason signing a couple of key defenders. The Gmen signed cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez to expensive contracts. People were mostly pleased with the work Dave Gettleman and company did in free agency, however, there were some mixed reviews.

In particular, some were critical of the Martinez signing. Blake Martinez was one of many linebackers available in a very talented free-agent class. The Giants signed Martinez to a three-year contract worth $30.75 million. Comparatively, Cory Littleton signed a three-year contract worth $35.25 million. Many viewed this to be a marginally more expensive signing for a significantly better player. That might be true when comparing the two linebackers’ 2019 seasons. But upon further examination, there is reason to believe Blake Martinez will be a better player in 2020.

A Disappointing 2019

2019 was a terrible performance by Blake Martinez in pass coverage. His completion percentage allowed rose to 83.8%, allowing opponents to complete 62 passes on 74 targets for 570 yards and 2 touchdowns. This makes Martinez a serious liability in pass coverage on the Giants’ defense.

Additionally, Blake Martinez missed 18 tackles in 2019. This was a missed tackle rate of 10.4%. This number needs to go down in 2020, but there is a reason to believe it will. The role Martinez played in the Packers’ defense last season could be the reason for the higher percentage of mixed tackles. But in the Giants’ defensive scheme, his role will be much different.

Why He Should Bounce Back In 2020

Blake Martinez is well aware of the criticisms people have regarding his performance last season. He gave this response:

Blake Martinez says the public misconception of him is that he doesn’t make impact plays. He says that his role in the GB D was to be a “clean-up” guy, the only LB on the field, with no gap responsibilities. Basically play off the other guys and go make the leftover plays. – Tom Rock of Newsday

What Martinez said is highly important. His role in the Packers’ defense changed drastically last season. Martinez is at his best when filling gap responsibilities. In 2019, he did not have gap responsibilities and was not able to make plays in run defense himself.

The Packers changed their coaching staff from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, the linebackers coach and run game coordinator was Patrick Graham. Graham is now the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. He and Martinez are very familiar with each other and Graham was able to get the best out of Martinez in 2018.

Blake Martinez racked up 144 combined tackles in 2018 along with 10 tackles for loss. But Martinez was also an excellent pass-rusher, a role he was basically taken out of in Green Bay’s 2019 defense. In 2018, Martinez blitzed 61 times, recording 11 pressures, 5 hurries, and 5 sacks. The Packers only brought Blake on 24 blitzes in 2019, but he was still efficient. He recorded 5 pressures, 2 hurries, and 3 sacks on his 24 blitz attempts this past season. Reuniting with Patrick Graham and returning to a blitz-heavy scheme, expect to see Blake Martinez brought on a number of blitzes in 2020.

What should the New York Giants expect from Ryan Connelly in 2020?

New York Giants, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants did address the inside linebacker position in the 2020 NFL draft this year, but it was with several later round picks that don’t represent exceptional talent or value. Essentially, creating a position battle next to Blake Martinez seems to be the most efficient way of finding the Giants’ second starter. However, they do have Ryan Connolly still on the roster, who suffered a torn ACL in week four against the Washington Redskins in the dying moments of the game during his rookie season.

Connelly started off his career nicely, posting 20 combine tackles, 1.0 sacks, two tackles for loss, two passes defended, and two interceptions. He missed zero tackles and logged a 57.1 completion rate against and zero touchdowns allowed. While his sample size is extremely small and we cannot base a cemented judgment on the numbers he did provide, the early promise he showed should offer optimism moving forward.

The New York Giants also landed Blake Martinez to pair at linebacker:

Signing Blake Martinez should get the Giants another tough run-stopping linebacker in the middle of the defense. While his coverage grade from 2019 is horrendous, he was playing in a strange mesh-zone scheme that didn’t allow him to play his preferred man coverage.

I believe new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham well utilize his players in a more efficient way. He tends to rely on man coverage far more often than James Bettcher. He played man 50% of the time with the Miami Dolphins last year and blitzed on 41% of snaps on third downs. I estimate that Connelly and Martinez will be active in the blitz game but also playing coverage against opposing tight ends and running backs.

The most exciting aspect of Connelly is his ability to shoot the gap instinctively and stop runners in the backfield. He’s also solid in coverage, allowing four completions on seven targets for just 19 yards. He is a smaller more shifty player at 6-foot-2 and 242 pounds.

I really liked what he offered early on in the 2019 season and I believe the Giants defense would’ve been much better if he was active. Nonetheless, plenty of players suffer ACL injuries and return to full health, so I believe he can do the same. The most recent injury updates are positive and he had already begun running and training. While we haven’t heard much from his camp, he should be in line to return to the defense with the green light this summer.

Again, the pairing of Martinez and Connelly could be a bit tumultuous in the beginning, considering it is a new tandem and the defensive playbook are completely overhauled, but they are two capable players who have the potential for more. I believe Connelly is a starter in the NFL and will show that in the near future.