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: One pair of defenders is excelling in PFF statistics

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

While the season has been a mixed bag so far for the New York Giants, some players on defense have definitely flourished under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Some of these players were on the roster last season but have stepped their game up with a different system and better coaching. Others are new arrivals who have made an instant impact and helped the Giants turn it around over the past couple of weeks.

Two players in specific are worth praising as they’ve made themselves stand out on the field and in the statistics columns.

Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence came into the league at the same time as Daniel Jones and is already on his second defensive coordinator in the second year of his career. But it looks like Graham is bringing out better things in him than James Bettcher. He’s already set to surpass his statistics from his rookie season. He had 38 combined tackles after playing in every game last year. This year, after only playing in 10 games so far, he already has 33.

Lawrence already has more tackles for a loss than he had last year, and only three less quarterback hits. And when it comes to PFF grade, which accounts for a number of factors, Lawrence is currently one of the highest rated sophomore defenders.

The Giants picked up Lawrence in the draft not long after moving on from Damon Harrison and it looks like they made the right choice. Harrison had the worst statistical season of his career after leaving the Giants, and has already changed teams to the Seahawks. Lawrence, on the other hand, still looks like he has room to move up.

James Bradberry

The signing of James Bradberry was met with varying reactions from interest to skepticism, after the Giants brought in the former Carolina corner to replace Janoris Jenkins. The Giants have missed at evaluating cornerbacks a number of times in recent memory. If you want proof of that, just look at their results after drafting Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker in the first round. Even when they brought in Janoris Jenkins, the Giants found a corner that was effective but would ultimately talk himself off the team with his attitude.

But those situations haven’t repeated themselves with James Bradberry. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Bradberry looks like the most likely player on the Giants defense to make the Pro Bowl or All-Pro team and has been worth the money so far. He has 3 interceptions so far, tying his career record, and also has 14 passes defended.

According to PFF, he leads the league this season when it comes to forced incompletions.

With six games left in the season still, there’s room for both Bradberry and Lawrence to further improve in their statistics. And it looks like both players are on pace for career highs in some of the most important areas. The Giants haven’t hit every time they’ve taken a swing at acquiring players. But this season, it does seem they have more hits than usual. Especially on defense, where the rebuilding process is finally showing some result.

New York Giants’ dominant third-down defense was the key to victory in Week 10

The New York Giants finally beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday for the first time since 2016. At 3-7, the Giants have entered the race to win the NFC, which has collectively struggled all season long. But the Giants are improving at a key moment in the season, playing behind and excellent defense that has kept New York in games.

All season long, Patrick Graham and the Giants’ defense has performed above its weight class. Entering the season, the defensive personnel looked like it could be a problem in 2020. But so far, there have been some serious bright spots and standout performers on the defensive side of the ball.

James Bradberry has been excellent all season long and continued his phenomenal season against Philadelphia on Sunday. Over the last two weeks, Bradberry has allowed just three receptions for 21 total yards. Bradberry has been dominant in his first season with Big Blue.

But the biggest surprise for the Giants defense, and the most rewarding treasure that New York found this offseason, is defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Graham has been clever all season with disguised blitzes and coverages. He has also managed to get the absolute most out of each and every single one of his playres and positions, despite having an obvious lacking of talent in certain areas. Patrick Graham’s excellence was shown in full effect on Sunday, as the New York Giants shut Philadelphia down on third downs.

The Giants’ Third Down Defense in Week 10

The New York Giants’ defense was dominant on third down in Week 10. Philadelphia was 0-9 on their third down attempts this Sunday. The Giants’ defense made clutch stop after clutch stop to clip the wings of the dirty birds.

This has been a consistent theme in recent weeks for the Giants. In the last four games the Giants’ opponents are converting 26 percent of their third downs. This is serious improvement from 54 percent rate in the first 6 games (via Dan Duggan).

The Giants have shown improvement week to week this season on both sides of the football. Last week, New York forced five total turnovers. This week they allowed zero third down conversions. It is hard to lose football games when the defense is playing at that high of a level. The Giants will need to continue to perform at this level over the final stretch of the season if they want to seriously push for a playoff spot.

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.

New York Giants still suffering from CB2 problems

New York Giants, Ryan Lewis

The New York Giants won their Week 9 matchup against Washington behind a dominating, five turnover performance from their defense. New York forced three interceptions as the secondary managed to contain Washington’s passing attack.

Despite this, there was still a familiar struggle within the Giants’ pass defense. The secondary cornerback position, this week manned by Isaac Yiadom, has been a consistent area of weakness for the Giants all season. The Giants have rotated the likes of Corey Ballentine, Isaac Yiadom, and Ryan Lewis in that position.

This week, Terry McLaurin was the lone bright spot on the Football Team’s offense as he totaled 7 receptions for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. James Bradberry managed McLaurin and any other receivers he lined up against, but Isaac Yiadom struggled severely.

Cornerback Isaac Yiadom allowed a perfect 158.3 passer rating against Washington on Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. James Bradberry, on the other hand, was only targeted in coverage one time. Washington made a conscious effort to avoid Bradberry and attack the Giants’ second cornerback position.

Ryan Lewis seemed to be the answer to the Giants’ cornerback problems. But, after he was placed on injured reserve, Isaac Yiadom was put back into the starting lineup. After this disappointing performance, it will be interesting to see who the Giants roll out there in Week 10 versus Philadelphia.

Additionally, Xavier McKinney could return to the Giants’ defense sometime this month. His addition to the lineup could move Logan Ryan over to cornerback two, or even Julian Love. New York, fortunately, has solid depth at the safety positions, but the cornerback position will need to improve.

New York Giants: James Bradberry will face off in key Week 8 matchup against Mike Evans

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight on primetime. The 1-6 Giants will be underdogs at home against the 5-2 Buccaneers who have recently emerged as Super Bowl contenders.

The Buccaneers’ offense has been nearly unstoppable in recent weeks as Tom Brady has begun playing at an MVP level. Tom “Terrific” reaps the benefits of having a slew of talented offensive weapons to share the rock with. But this week, one of his top two receivers, Chris Godwin, will be out with a finger injury. This leaves Mike Evans as the Bucs’ primary weapon on Monday night.

Mike Evans will have to face off against Giants cornerback James Bradberry, who is playing at an All-Pro level through the first seven weeks of the season. Bradberry and Evans have a history, as Bradberry formerly played in the NFC South as a member of the Carolina Panthers. This matchup could be the key to victory for the Giants in Week 8.

Mike Evans vs. James Bradberry

James Bradberry and Mike Evans have a long history playing against each other in the NFC South. Bradberry spent the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers before signing with the Giants this offseason. Evans and Bradberry have faced off twice per year since Bradberry entered the league in 2017.

In 2020, Bradberry and Evans will only matchup this one time. Based on their previous matchups, the Giants should feel pretty confident that Mike Evans will be contained on Monday night.

James Bradberry has held Mike Evans to mediocre or below-average performances on multiple occasions. Only a couple of times has Evans gotten the best of Bradberry. James Bradberry has never allowed Mike Evans to score a touchdown in his coverage.

This year, it is even more likely that Bradberry contains Evans based on the way James has performed throughout this season. James Bradberry is the fifth-highest graded cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Bradberry made PFF’s First-Quarter All-Pro Team four his dominant first four weeks of the season.

The Giants’ secondary has suffered from a revolving door at the second cornerback position. However, James Bradberry has held the defensive together like glue with consistently excellent play as the primary cornerback. It would be surprising to see Mike Evans break out against the Giants’ defense tonight.

New York Giants: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense heating up ahead of primetime matchup

New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants

The New York Giants will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8. New York will play its second primetime game in a row after suffering an embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night. Heading into this week’ss matchup, the Giants are once again staring defeat in the face on primetime.

Anything is possible, and we have seen the Giants upset Tom Brady in the greatest of fashion, but the Giants will be major underdogs in this Week 8 matchup. Tom Brady and the high-flying Buccaneers had a slow start to the season but have recently emerged as legitimate Super Bowl contenders over the last couple of weeks.

High-Flying Offense

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady is leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ high-flying offense in 2020. After two decades of dominance with the New England Patriots, Brady moved on to do things without Belichick in Tampa Bay. So far, Brady has found far more success than the Patriots, nearly putting to rest the “system quarterback” criticism he was dealt in New England.

Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level through seven weeks of the 2020 NFL season. He might not be winning the MVP race right now, but that is not an indictment on Tom, but, rather, praise to sing for the rest of the league’s star quarterbacks.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have scored 83 points in the past two weeks. Tom Brady is coming off of an elite Week 7 performance that saw him throw for 369 yards and 4 passing touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown with 0 interceptions. Brady is Pro Football Focus’s third-highest graded quarterback in the NFL so far, trailing only Aaron Rodgers and Rusell Wilson.

Tampa Bay’s offense has been connecting on countless deep shots downfield. According to PFF, on 20+ yard throws, Tom Brady has totaled 15 Big-Time-Throws and 0 turnover-worthy-throws. He has been near-flawless when airing the ball out deep.

The New York Giants’ defense has allowed opposing offenses to gain an average of 251.7 passing yards and 24.9 points per game. Cornerback James Bradberry has been performing at an elite level, but he will have his hands full when matching up against Mike Evans and Tom Brady.

The Giants are hosting a beastly Buccaneers offense on Monday night. Unfortunately for New York, Brady and the Bucs are out of their sluggish phase. Now, they are exploding to the forefront of the NFL in a dominant fashion. The Giants’ defense has a tough task ahead of them as they gameplan to slow down the GOAT and his talent-loaded offense.

New York Giants: James Bradberry lends encouraging words to Evan Engram

New York Giants, James Bradberry

It hasn’t been a good last week for Evan Engram after his drop cost the New York Giants their game against the Eagles, but the tight end received some words of support from the team’s top cornerback. James Bradberry came out in support of Engram when asked about him by reporters on Tuesday, in face of the demands from fans that the team moves on from Engram before the deadline.

“As a player, you see a phenomenal talent. Physical, big body guy that can run. That’s one thing that separates him from the rest of the tight ends in the league, that he can run. He’s very fast. Just as a teammate, what you would tell him, I’ve been there before,” Bradberry said about Engram.

“I missed out on plays here and there in my career over the past four years. You just have to fight back. You have to keep your head in the game, keep that confidence within you. There were several plays throughout that Philadelphia game that we should have made on defense that we let go. The game should have never been in that position in the first place.”

Some fans won’t share Bradberry’s sentiments and believe that Engram is past the point where the Giants should bet on his potential. On the other hand, it doesn’t look like the team is going to make a move to get rid of Engram before the deadline based on reports so far. The front office, more or less, seems to be on Bradberry’s side on the matter of Engram.

But it remains to be seen whether that will be the right move or a mistake, given Engram’s performance last time and the extensive problems that have plagued his career up until this point in time.

New York Giants: James Bradberry set to face off against Terry McLaurin in key matchup

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants are about to face their second divisional opponent of the 2020 NFL season on Sunday. After a disappointing and heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, New York fell to 0-5. The Giants are traveling to Washington this week to play their second divisional opponent of the season: the 1-4 Washington Football Team.

Washington’s offense has been dysfunctional this season, like the Giants. But as the Giants have a talented young receiver in Darius Slayton acting as a bright spot, Washington has their own receiver doing the same. Terry McLaurin, Washington’s third-round pick in last year’s draft, is a rising star that has ascended as the lone bright spot in Washington’s offense.

Luckily for the New York Giants, their brightest star on the defensive side of the ball will be the one tasked with guarding Terry McLaurin. Cornerback James Bradberry has been playing at an elite level for the New York Giants and will be tasked with guarding McLaurin on Sunday.

Terry McLaurin Stats and Highlights

Terry McLaurin has played in 19 career games. In those games, McLaurin has played with five quarterbacks and three head coaches. He has dealt with discontinuity and uncertainty throughout his career. Despite this, McLaurin has managed to total 87 receptions for 1,332 yards and 8 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per catch.

In 2020, McLaurin has already totaled 413 receiving yards, the ninth-most in the NFL. McLaurin has been separating from cornerbacks at a high rate in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Terry has recorded all 413 of his receiving yards on receptions where he has a step or more of separation. McLaurin has also been a big-play threat, recording 7 receptions of 20+ yards through five games.

Terry McLaurin has been one of the top receivers in the NFL since he entered the league last year. Luckily for the Giants, James Bradberry has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in 2020.

James Bradberry Stats and Highlights

James Bradberry is coming off of another elite performance in Week Five. Bradberry was tasked with shadowing wide receiver Amari Cooper last week. Bradberry held Cooper to one catch for 8 yards and a pass breakup, according to PFF.

Bradberry has been locking up every wide receiver he has faced off against. In single coverage, Bradberry has outperformed every cornerback in the NFL with an elite 91.4 single coverage grade (PFF). His overall coverage grade is the second-highest in the NFL at 87.3.

Bradberry also leads the NFL in pass breakups this year with 9 through five weeks. The Giants’ defense will have its hands full as they attempt to shut down Terry McLaurin. But Giants fans should feel confident heading into this matchup knowing that James Bradberry will be the one to line up against Washington’s young star receiver.

New York Giants: Just how good was James Bradberry in week 5 loss to Dallas?

New York Giants, James Bradberry

There is plenty of bad to harp on from the New York Giants’ week five loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but one excellent performance came from cornerback James Bradberry on defense.

Given the unit allowed 37 points and ultimately provided Andy Dalton with a chance at victory, Bradberry was a stand out player and locked down his opposition for the entire game.

Before diving into his specific performance, let’s go through a few of his season stats up to this point. Through five weeks, Bradberry has 17 combined tackles, nine passes defended, and one interception. He has also forced one fumble and played a significant part in an interception earlier on in the year, in which Julian Love came away with.

Diving into James Bradberry and how great he’s been for the New York Giants:

Bradberry continues to shine on a weekly basis, earning an 85.7 overall grade this year, which ranks second among all corners, according to PFF.

His coverage grade averages out at 87.3, with his worst number coming in week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since then, he has been elite, hitting a top of 93.1 against the Chicago Bears, in which he completely blanked star, WR Allen Robinson.

His major issue has been his tackling, posting only two games with a grade over 77. He’s had three below 51. However, you can make the argument that if he isn’t allowing receptions, he usually isn’t going to be making tackles. The sample size is likely so small that any number of missed tackles bloats his conversion rate.

Going further into his performance against Dallas, he walked away with a 77.9 overall grade and a 79.1 grade in coverage, which actually isn’t as great as one might have thought. He racked up two tackles and was targeted five times, allowing three receptions overall for 35 yards. However, against Amari Cooper, one of the best route runners in the NFL, he kept him to just one catch for 7 yards. That is an incredible feat that the Giants should be proud of, considering Janoris Jenkins allowed a three-touchdown, 190-yard performance to Mike Evans in week three of the 2019 season.

While his overall coverage grade might not have reflected his performance, that is simply due to the number of targets that went Bradberry’s way. He allowed three receptions on five targets but factoring in how little Dallas targeted him, you can begin to understand just how dominant he has been as the CB1 for the Giants.