New York Giants: 3 players on defense who have surprised in 2020

New York Giants, Blake Martinez, James Bradberry

The New York Giants are entering their bye week with back to back wins against division opponents. The Giants are sitting at a 3-7 record, that might not sound the best, but the Giants are just a half-game back from first place in the division. In the last few weeks, the Giants have made some drastic improvements.

There is a lot to like about the Giants this season. The coaching for the G-MEN has been impressive, to say the least. We can give all the credit to the coaches, the players are going on the field and playing every week.

Three New York Giants players who have played above their weight-class:

James Bradberry

James Bradberry has been a solid cornerback throughout his career but would not consider him elite until his first season with the New York Giants.

With his first season with the Giants, Bradberry just isn’t one of the best cornerbacks in the NFC East, he is one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Through 10 weeks, Bradberry leads the NFL with 14 passes defended and three interceptions.

Dave Gettleman was the former general manager of the Carolina Panthers. Gettleman drafted Bradberry back in 2016 in the second round. Once Bradberry hit free agency this past offseason, Gettleman jumped all over him. Bradberry received a three-year deal, worth $43.5 million. What a massive signing by Gettleman this past offseason.

Blake Martinez

Blake Martinez was a tackling machine in Green Bay for years but never brought much else to the table. The Packers couldn’t have been more wrong.

Martinez is tied for the most tackles in the NFL through 10 weeks, but he has done much more for the Giants than that. Martinez has provided a rock in the middle of the defense and being the vocal leader of this Giants’ defense. This is what the Giants needed on the defensive side of the ball.

Dave Gettleman again made another great signing this past offseason. Gettleman signed Martinez to a three-year deal, just like he did to Bradberry. Martinez’s deal is worth $30 million over three-years. This Giants defense has found their leader for years to come.

Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams was a Pro Bowler his rookie season in the NFL but after that season never played up to his expectations. Why would Dave Gettleman give up a third-round and fifth-round pick for an average defensive lineman?

Williams was the final piece to the puzzle for this Giants defensive line. The Giants now have Williams, Dexter Lawerance, and Dalvin Tomlinson are the starters, with B.J. Hill getting solid playing time coming off the bench.

The Giants were not able to sign Williams to a long-term extension and were forced to give him the franchise tag. Williams’ franchise tag is worth $16.1 million.

Whatever your feelings about the trade for Williams, you can not deny that he has been one of the best players on this entire Giants team. Williams is playing as he did back in his rookie season. He is finally becoming that all-around playmaker Gettleman traded for in 2019. Williams currently is leading the Giants in sacks with five, tackles for loss with eight, and quarterback hits with 17.

New York Giants: Just how great has Blake Martinez been at linebacker?

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

When the New York Giants signed Blake Martinez to a three-year, $30 million contract, most were skeptical over the move. Having poor grades and inconsistent coverage abilities with Green Bay, nobody expected Martinez to be one of the Giants’ best players through 10 weeks. He has been a leader on defense and one of their premier playmakers for Patrick Graham’s unit.

This is Graham’s first year as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, and his unit currently ranks in the top 10  for points allowed per game. They are one of the best run-stopping teams in the league, and Martinez has played a significant part in that metric. While he had his worst game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 10, missing several tackles and allowing a few receptions, he has been stellar the entire year.

How good has Blake Martinez been for the New York Giants?

Martinez is tied for first in the NFL with 96 combine tackles, also earning five quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and one forced fumble. He also has an interception, allowing 80.4% of passes thrown his way to be caught. He has a 7.7% missed tackle rate, which is right in line with his previous seasons in Green Bay, but he has been much more active with the Giants this year, as they seem to prioritize linebacker and utilize Martinez as a blitzer and premium run stopper.

Through 10 weeks, Martinez has made 41 stops, which is a measurement that tells when a runner is stopped before gaining 40% of the yardage necessary to pick up a first down. His run defense has quietly decreased in effiencity, but his coverage grades have improved. He is finding a balance between the two, and as he continues to learn Graham’s defensive scheme and adapt, we should expect improvement.

Considering how good he has been for the Giants, there’s a good chance he makes the Pro Bowl this year. Comparably, fans were calling for the Giants to sign Cory Littleton in free agency, and he has been one of the worst starting linebackers in the NFL this year with the Las Vegas Raiders. He has a 36.7 overall defensive grade, with a 39.4 run defense grade and 38.9 coverage grade. Overall, he is not even in the same realm as Martinez, so it seems as if the Giants made a fantastic decision with Blake in free agency.

Chemistry is important:

It is also important to note that Martinez had previous experience with Graham, and this was a specific choice for the Giants’ new defense. He fits the run-stopping role perfectly, and I don’t expect him to be a coverage linebacker. That is one of the positives from this team, they played to the player’s strengths and not force them into uncomfortable situations. Former coordinator James Bettcher did the opposite with cornerback DeAndre Baker, playing him in off-ball zone coverage instead of press-man, which was his strength at Georgia.

It is nice to see the Giants with coordinators who are playing to their strengths and not forcing weaknesses to improve.

Three reasons the New York Giants can get win number three on Sunday

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and they have a chance to win back to back games for the first time this season. The team followed up their first win of the season with close back to back losses to Philadelphia and Tampa – now, they’ll have a chance to change that track record and get revenge for their bad loss in Philly.

But why should we be confident the Giants will pull this one out?

Daniel Jones cutting down on turnovers

The most recent game for the Giants was the first one this season where Daniel Jones had one or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He also didn’t lose a fumble, getting him out of the game with no turnovers. Turnovers have been a big problem for Jones this season and have earned him plenty of criticism from fans.

During the team’s back to back losses picked up following their first win of the season, Jones threw three interceptions and lost one fumble. Taking more care of the ball is a different trend from the rest of the season, as Jones already has nine interceptions right now. If he can keep up the safer decision making, the Giants have a better chance of winning this one.

The Giants came close last time

The Giants should have won their first meeting with the Eagles. That’s not a biased statement, but the truth. The Giants only had to run the clock out and they would have walked away with a victory. However, the now infamous drop from Evan Engram cost the team a first down and the game ended as an unexpected loss.

These types of weird situations usually don’t happen twice. No one in the NFC East is a very good team this year and the Eagles should still be a beatable team. The Giants did alright the first time around when they played the Eagles. They made plays on offense just at the right time, and would have produced just enough to come away with a win if it wasn’t for the late drop that gave the Eagles another possession.

This time, the Giants might know better than sending the ball Evan Engram’s way if the team is in trouble late in the game.

High performance defense

Several defensive players for the Giants have stepped it up this season. One of them, linebacker Blake Martinez, is leading the league in tackles right now. Martinez has 92 tackles right now, an impressive accomplishment for a player that was considered a castoff from Green Bay and who faced skepticism after signing his deal with the Giants. Martinez had a big contribution to the Giants’ second win, with 10 tackles as well as an interception.

Another player stepping it up is Leonard Williams. He’s had sacks in back to back games and has had five so far this season. That’s a pretty big step up from his poor statistics last season after joining the Giants, and Williams has justified the team’s decision to keep him around for another year.

James Bradberry has taken up the top cornerback mantle from Janoris Jenkins and done good things in the role. He has 3 interceptions so far which ties him for 5th in the league and will likely be a factor in Giants wins going forward.

Can the Giants pull it off?

The Eagles barely managed a win in the first meeting between these two teams. That was with a home crowd at their backs and the advantage of facing a first time head coach with a new administration. This time, the Giants have a bit more familiarity with their opponent and experience crafting a game plan to face the Eagles. Daniel Jones also did better last time out avoiding turnovers and the top performers on defense haven’t let up in their performances.

There’s no guarantee that anyone will win any game in the NFC East this year, but it’s safe to say the Giants at least have a good chance to beat the Eagles and pick up their third win of the season on Sunday.

Two New York Giants defenders playing with elite numbers

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants have had a rocky start this season but picked up their second win when they defeated Washington on the road on Sunday. It’s the second time the Giants have beaten Washington this year and while they were only able to pull out a narrow win of three points, there’s reasons to think the result signals good things for the future.

Daniel Jones had a game without an interception, after a week where he was heavily criticized for his turnovers, and the Giants were able to get the running game going better than in some of their previous outings. However, many of the real top performers for the Giants are on their defense this season.

Two elite players for the Giants defense

It’s been a while since the Giants have had a star linebacker but it’s safe to say they have one now in Blake Martinez, who leads the league in tackles. He also has six tackles for a loss, which is more than his direct competitors for the leading tackler spot.

Martinez registered 155 tackles during his last season with Green Bay and it looks likely that he’ll break that mark by the end of this season given his current pace. It’s also worth giving some credit to the coaching staff. After all, this is a step up from Martinez’s performance in Green Bay and some fans were skeptical at first over whether he deserved the money. The staff likely had some role to play in the raise in performance.

Leonard Williams is another player that has picked up his performance this season, with 5 sacks so far. It puts him in the top 20 for the NFL’s pass rushers this season. The number may improve further based on what we’ve seen from Williams so far.

If these two players hadn’t stepped it up this season, it would have certainly reflected badly on GM Dave Gettleman and would likely have a negative impact on Gettleman’s job status with the team. But with these two additions becoming key members of the team, the Giants front office is faced with more complex and less clear decisions once we approach the offseason.

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

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

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.