New York Jets 2021 opponent report: New England Patriots

There would be, perhaps, no better way for the New York Jets to open a new era than by ending their losing streak against the Patriots.

The Opponent: New England Patriots
The Dates: Week 2, September 19, 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NY)/Week 7, October 24, 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NE)*
The Series: New England leads 69-54-1 (last meeting: 2020, 28-14 NE)

*-(subject to flexible scheduling)

Year one of the post-Tom Brady era was a merciless kick back to reality for the New England Patriots. Yet, one tradition lingered from Brady’s historic tenure: beating the New York Jets.

For all the Patriots’ faults in 2020, they managed to keep their winning streak against the Jets alive, sweeping the annual pair for a fifth straight season. The Jets haven’t earned a sweep against New England since 2000…one year before Mo Lewis’ hit on Drew Bledsoe inadvertently shifted the course of NFL history. New England’s ten-game winning streak is the longest in the series that dates back to the days of the AFL, breaking a nine-game tally the Jets had between 1966 and 1970.

The Jets came close to ending the streak last season in a Monday night showdown in November at MetLife Stadium. New York, in fact, owned a two-possession lead entering the final quarter, but surrendered 13 points over the final six-plus minutes en route to a 30-27 defeat.

New York and New England also met in the final week of the season. Meaningless finales between the Jets and Patriots have been nothing new since the NFL instituted an all-divisional matchup slate for the last week, as New England would often rest starters going into the playoffs. This time, though, mere pride was on the line and the Patriots sent the Adam Gase era note out on an appropriate thud, topping the Jets 28-14.

Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Skinny on the Patriots

Bill Belichick is burdened with a load he hasn’t had to deal with in a long, long time: something to prove.

Few can question the impact and legacy…more a path of destruction…that Belichick has left behind. But last season created the closest thing to a smear one can make on Belichick’s New England ledger: Brady moved on to Tampa Bay and immediately won another Super Bowl with Belichick over 1,300 miles away.

Belichick isn’t like Michael Jordan: he won’t publicly declare that he “took that personally”. But Brady’s instant success in a new locale has to be eating at him a little. Every eye in the football world will turn to Foxboro on October 3, when Brady and the Buccaneers arrive for a Sunday night visit. But the Patriots will have a spotlight on them all season after last season’s flop.

Despite the departure Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and recent retiree Julian Edelman, the Patriots still have leftovers from their most recent glory days. Sony Michel’s third season was cut short by bouts on the COVID-19 list and injured reserve, but he performed well over the final three games of last season (287 yards on 40 touches). Devin McCourty returns for his 12th season, flanked by cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson (the latter earning nine interceptions last season).

New York Jets, Hunter Henry
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What’s New in New England?

Belichick did what any supposed villain would do after getting wronged: he spent a lot of money in an attempt to get revenge. 

New England spent over $316 million in free agency endeavors this offseason, a project headlined by swiping the top two available tight ends. The post-Gronkowski situation was even more garish, as Ryan Izzo and Devin Asiasi united for only 238 yards on 15 receptions last year.

New England remedied this issue by brining in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, dedicating over $12 million in 2021 cap space to the former AFC foes. The Patriots have never been hesitant to use two tight ends, routinely pairing Gronkowski with names like Brandon LaFell, Martellus Bennett, and Aaron Hernandez. Expect to see them reemploy more 12 personnel sets with two elite names in tow.

On defense, the Patriots brought in two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon. He’ll join  returnees Kyle Van Noy and Donte Hightower will re-don the Flying Elvis after one-year absences. Van Noy returns after one year with divisional rival Miami while Hightower opted out of last season in the midst of the health crisis. Speaking of front seven additions, the Patriots also added former Jet Henry Anderson, who never lived up to the $25 million extension granted to him in 2019.

No discussion about the post-Brady Patriots would be complete without looking at the quarterback situation. Cam Newton got off to a hot start but was never the same after missing an October game in Kansas City on the COVID-19 list. The 32-year-old Newton is projected to be the opening day starter but the Patriots used April’s 15th overall selection on Alabama thrower Mac Jones.

When it comes to the quarterback’s targets, the Patriots appear to be moving on from first-rounder N’Keal Harry. Jakobi Meyers returns for his third season after a breakthrough year in the slot (729 yards), while team added Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor from the west cost.

(Photo By Streeter Lecka)

How to Beat Them

-Wow, What a (Pass) Rush 

The home opener against the Patriots will be an early test for the Jets’ revamped pass rush.

Even Brady finds himself flustered by a strong backfield invasion; if not for that of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, for example, he might have a Super Bowl ring for every finger. The Jets played a rare role in a Brady denial during their most recent playoff triumph: on that magical evening in January 2011, the Jets took down the arguable GOAT five times.

No matter whom the Jets face under center, they have to up the pressure. Newton can still move around as he gets deeper into his 30s…he scored two on the ground in the first meeting last season…but this isn’t the same Newton we saw during his Carolina heyday. New England was 3-6 when teams blitzed on at least 25 percent of Newton’s snaps last season. The pressure situation should only increase with Jones in tow, as there would probably be no better way to welcome the national champion to the NFL than a relentless rush.

The Jets know just how important pressure will be. Their most impactful 2021 contract is Carl Lawson’s three-year, $45 million deal that lured him away from Cincinnati. Enough has been written about how Lawson has made a defensive impact despite pedestrian sack totals. The early showdown with the Patriots will give him a perfect opportunity to back the early praise up.

-Push the Patriots off the Pedestal 

The horrors that the Patriots have subjected the Jets to could qualify as the stuff of urban legends at this point. November’s aforementioned Monday night loss, for example, was a positive in mere sense that it was the Jets’ first one-possession loss since the infamous Austin Seferian-Jenkins incident in 2017.

Nothing would symbolize a new era of Jets football better than taking down the hated Patriots. So desperate is the metropolitan area for a sports celebration…the Canyon of Heroes has been vacant to local affairs since the Giants’ parade in 2011 (the United States’ World Cup champion women’s soccer team in 2015 and 2019 notwithstanding)…that plans for a Robert Saleh statue could be submitted if the Jets take that Week 2 tilt. The fact that fans will be welcomed back to MetLife Stadium for an NFL regular season game for the first time since December 2019 only adds to how much the Patriots’ will mean.

But the Jets can’t go in with that mindset. A win is a win, no matter who it comes against. The Patriots are the Patriots…they’re a football team not a boogeyman. New York shouldn’t buy into the increased hype just because it’s been a while since they’ve enjoyed a win over a certain divisional rival.

Saleh walked through MetLife Stadium for the first time in June. Unlike, say, Rex Ryan, the newly minted Jets boss wasn’t looking to create bulletin board material for the New England locker room. Instead, his focus lingered only what a win would mean for the New York area. He hoped to create a similar atmosphere seen during late spring’s postseason endeavors at Madison Square Garden and Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, where he witnessed the respective playoff runs of the New York Knicks and New York Islanders.

“I’m really excited to get it going and get that stadium filled where that thing becomes live again like it’s been in the past,” Saleh said in a report from team writer Eric Allen. “New York fans are extremely passionate. They love their home teams, they’re rabid to a sense and it’s awesome. It comes from just absolute love for their teams. But like everything else in the world, you got to earn it.”

“We’re excited about all the work we’re putting in. We’re excited to get the opportunity to earn the same response at MetLife stadium and let the fans light that place up.”

How important is it for the Jets to end their losing streak against New England? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and continue the conversation.

New York Giants: Kyle Van Noy an interesting new free agent to keep an eye on

New York Giants, Kyle Van noy

The New York Giants are preparing for a crucial free agency period this offseason. New York has made it known that they are in the market for new offensive playmakers. The defense was the strength of the team in 2020 while the offense fell behind, averaging only 17.5 points per game.

But that is not to say that the Giants’ defense was perfect by any means. The Giants did a good job generating interior pressure and had an impressive trio of safeties combined with some 2020 free agency standouts in Blake Martinez and James Bradberry. There was one position, though, that the Giants were lacking consistent production out of.

The New York Giants did not have a consistent presence pass-rushing off the edge in 2020. They ran with a rotational pass-rush that saw numerous players start as edge rushers. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines were solid edge players when healthy, but when they went down, New York had a revolving door at edge rusher.

Today, a new edge rusher entered the free agency market. The Miami Dolphins cut Kyle Van Noy after one season with the team to save themselves over $9 million in salary-cap space. Van Noy is an intriguing player that the Giants should keep an eye on as they approach free agency.

Kyle Van Noy stats and highlights

After one season in Miami, Kyle Van Noy is once again a free agent. Van Noy spent the first four years of his career with the New England Patriots before playing in Detroit with the Lions for three years. In 2020, Van Noy was a free agent searching for his third team. He ultimately landed in Miami but did praise the New York Giants and their new head coach Joe Judge earlier in the process.

Kyle Van Noy has familiarity with Joe Judge from their days with the New England Patriots. Last offseason, Van Noy was a guest on the Pat McAfee Show. He praised Joe Judge, referring to him as a “ball of energy,” and even said, “Go, Giants!” towards the end of his interview. Now that he is once again a free agent, Van Noy could be a potential fit with the New York Giants.

Kyle Van Noy is an eight-year NFL veteran that has played a versatile role throughout his career. He might not fill up the stat sheet, having a career-high of only 6.5 sacks in a season (2019). But Van Noy is one of those guys that generates a lot of hidden production.

According to Pro Football Focus, Van Noy tied third among non-defensive linemen in pressures with 28 in 2020. Kyle Van Noy is an edge rusher, but he is also an off-ball linebacker. He plays a variety of defensive alignments and performs well at every one of them. If the Giants sign Kyle Van Noy, he could potentially fill two needs for them. Van Noy would contribute to the Giants’ pass-rush and he would also be able to plug in as a solid off-ball linebacker next to Blake Martinez.

The Giants utilize a complex, versatile defense under Patrick Graham. In 2020, New York sent plenty of creative blitzes. Kyle Van Noy might fit perfectly in this scheme as a player who can rush from anywhere on the field. Additionally, his familiarity with the coaching staff could connect him to New York.

Recapping the New York Jets’ first day of free agency

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets have expressed a lot of interest but done very little, so here’s a breakdown of all that’s gone down in regards to the Jets today for both sides of the ball. As for tomorrow, Gang Green needs to wake up.

Offensive Line Rumors

The Jets were in on three key offensive linemen — Graham Glasgow, Joe Thuney, and Jack Conklin. All three are not going to be joining the Green and White. Despite prioritizing building through the trenches, the Jets added one offensive lineman today, and it was a guy they could’ve waited to scoop up in George Fant. The Jets need to add interior offensive linemen and are reportedly targeting C/G Steven Wisniewski & G Greg Van Roten. Van Roten is a longtime Jets fan and great pass protector, Wisniewski is a veteran with Douglas connections.

Wide Receiver Rumors

The Jets are devoted to helping Sam, but at what cost? The Jets missed out on adding either Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, and DeAndre Hopkins. All three would’ve been legit number one receivers. Now the Jets head towards day two of free agency looking to add playmakers. Phillip Dorsett is reportedly a big target. Dorsett is the only guy the Jets have publicly been linked to, but expect more to emerge tomorrow and keep an eye on Emmanuel Sanders.

Edge Rusher Rumors

The Jets have been very active in expressing interest here. The Jets have shown interest in Dante Fowler Jr as expected. However, the Jets have also shown SERIOUS interest in Jadeveon Clowney. If the money is there and feasible, the Jets should go after him. He would be a monster for Gregg Williams to have fun with on defense. Fowler and Clowney would immediately add more star power on defense. The Jets also seem inclined to let Jordan Jenkins walk per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

As for lesser names, the Jets had shown interest in Kyle Van Noy before the Dolphins added him. Expect them to target Markus Golden as well.

Cornerback Rumors

The Jets were in on both James Bradberry and Byron Jones, but it seemed more than likely they would target lesser corners. Desmond Trufant was released by Atlanta today and has already been linked to the Jets. As has Chris Harris Jr. and Prince Amukamara. Brian Poole is a guy the Jets would like to bring back, but cost is debatable. Corner is a priority for the Jets, and their goal is to find value guys.

New York Giants have two options to fix the pass rush in free agency

New York Giants, Jadeveon Clowney, Markus Golden

The New York Giants need to prioritize the pass rush this offseason, whether it be through the NFL Draft or free agency. Luckily, there are plenty of options to consider in the open market. Now it depends on GM Dave Gettleman and his willingness to open his checkbook to inject more quality into the Giants’ defensive front.

However, two different scenarios could unfold for the Giants, as they represent the best situations available after a majority of the top pass rushers will be franchise tagged.

The two best options for the New York Giants:

1.) Jadeveon Clowney

Of course, Clowney is an ideal wish-list candidate, considering his ability to shut down an entire side on the defense. He can set the edge with solid run-stopping capabilities and also rush the passer an elite level, despite never having breached double-digit sacks in his career.

Last season, Clowney recorded just 3.0 sacks and 13 QB hits, but he was double-teamed on a majority of plays, essentially taking two offensive linemen out of the equation. The Giants will need to be confident that their No.2 pass-rusher is capable of winning 1v1 battles in the trenches. Also, factoring the Giants’ strong interior defense into the equation should justify a strong pass-rush presence, especially if they re-sign Leonard Williams to a multi-year deal.

2.) Kyle Van Noy and Markus Golden

This avenue is a bit more uncertain, considering Van Noy is an aging veteran, and Golden’s lone year of production after two years of consecutive injuries doesn’t scream consistency. However, this option is cheaper and lands two quality players who can serve multiple purposes.

Van Noy is a capable pass rusher but also stout against the run, and we know the type of production Golden can produce (10.0 sacks in 2019). I imagine they would likely garner around $25 million altogether while Clowney is projected to re-set the edge rusher market at $22 million per season. The Giants currently allocates just $29 million toward their entire defense.

RUMORS: New York Giants expected to pursue Jadeveon Clowney aggressively, here’s why they shouldn’t

New York Giants, Jadeveon Clowney

The New York Giants have been linked to star pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, this off-season, but general manager Dave Gettleman should be careful where he allocates his money. The Giants are expected to have around $80 million in open space to spend his free agency, but Clowney is asking for upwards of $22 million per season. That would slash about 25% of the Giants’ cap right off the bat, almost totaling their entire allocation towards the defense currently, at $29 million.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST FIRESIDE GIANTS PODCAST

Considering Gettleman intends to enter the 2020 regular season with $20 million in cap space left over, signing Clowney would ultimately write off 50% of all the allocations they have to spend this off-season. That would leave $40 million to address the linebacker position, cornerback, and offensive tackle depending on their draft selections.

https://twitter.com/incarceratedbob/status/1236626139424186370

What the New York Giants should do instead:

While Clowney earned elite grades, according to PFF, with the 87.3 overall grade in 2019, he ranked 88th in sacks with just three, 12th in force fumbles with three, and 49th with 22 solo tackles. Clowney’s production does not scream elite by any means, but he is capable of shutting down an entire side of an offensive line, which makes him extremely valuable for any team.

Alternatively, for the Giants, they can pursue an option like Kyle Van Noy, who has been productive for the New England Patriots. While Van Noy hasn’t earned a Pro Bowl selection during his career, he has won two Super Bowl’s over the last three seasons with the Patriots. During that time frame, he has logged 16.5 sacks, to 189 combine tackles, and 37 quarterback hits. As an outside linebacker, he’s capable of rushing the passer and also dropping back into coverage, as he earned a 55.6% completion percentage in 2019. Also, his 9.7% missed tackle rate decreased significantly from 14.8% in 2018.

I believe pairing Van Noy, and Markus Golden on cheaper deals is far more valuable than signing Clowney for $22 million per season. Allocating that amount disables the Giants from addressing other positions of need. They are better off signing Byron Jones to lock down the number one corner spot, and Van Noy to act as a stopgap until they can find a better pass rusher.

New York Giants: Kyle Van Noy a likely signing by Joe Judge in free agency

New York Giants, Kyle Van Noy

The New York Giants are desperately in need of an upgraded pass rush for the 2020 season. It is expected that general manager Dave Gettleman will refrain from overspending on options like Jadeveon Clowney, which opens up the door for lesser targets with a more cap-friendly contract.

One solid target in free agency is former New England Patriots linebacker, Kyle Van Noy. Having spent ample time with head coach Joe Judge in recent years, Van Noy is a stellar option for the Giants who brings experience and proven ability on defense.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reports that Van Noy and the Giants are heavily connected, despite legal tampering only starting in nine days:

And it could be much more cost-effective for the Giants to try to re-sign Markus Golden, who had 10 sacks for them last year, and maybe even add New England’s Kyle Van Noy (6 ½). Both could land in the $12 million per year range, meaning the Giants could get both of them for about what it would cost to land Clowney.

The Giants do have an interest in re-signing Golden, a source said, though it will depend on what his price is. They also have an interest in Van Noy, according to another source, and the feeling is believed to be mutual since [he and Joe Judge] were together four years in New England.

What would Van Noy bring to the New York Giants?

Last season, Van Noy posted 6.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, seven tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. He has had a relatively healthy career, missing four games over the last three seasons. As a second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2014, Van Noy eventually joined the Patriots in 2016 and has been one of their leaders ever since.

If Gettleman does, in fact, re-sign Marcus Golden to a multi-year deal and brings in Van Noy, they will have two solid pass rushers to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Golden is set to test the free-agent market, looking for the most money after recording 10 sacks in 2019, after spending two consecutive years plagued with injuries.

New York Giants Interested In Kyle Van Noy

The NFL’s 2020 free agency period will begin this month. The New York Giants are set to have over $80 million to spend if they choose to. There is plenty of elite talent weeks away from hitting the open market that would fill positions of need for New York’s team.

The Giants are reportedly interested in a few big-name pass-rushers. The interest was reportedly mutual between the Giants and Yannick Ngakoue, prior to Yannick receiving the franchise tag (according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN). The Giants also have a mutual interest with Markus Golden in terms of a contract extension (Sports Illustrated). New York even has a mutual interest with big-name edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney.

There is another name to add to the Giants’ list of potential edge rusher targets in 2020: Kyle Van Noy.

The Giants’ Interest

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the Giants have an interest in signing New England’s free-agent pass-rusher Kyle Van Noy. This would likely only hold true if New York was unable to strike a deal with Jadeveon Clowney. But Van Noy would be an excellent value signing for the Giants.

Vacchiano estimates that Van Noy’s contract could “land in the $12 million per year range,” which is about half of what it would cost to sign Jadeveon Clowney.

In New England’s 2019 defense, Kyle Van Noy was moved to edge rusher. In this role, Van Noy totaled 60 pressures, 6.5 sacks, and a pressure rate of 13.8%, which ranked 26th best at his position (Pro Football Focus).

Though he is a great pass-rusher, Kyle Van Noy is an elite run defender. He earned an 85.4 run-defense grade on Pro Football Focus, an elite grade that ranked top-five at his position. He also totaled 56 combined tackles and 7 tackles for loss in 2019 as an edge rusher. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy racked up 92 combined tackles.

For only $12 million per year, Kyle Van Noy would be an excellent signing compared to the rest of the players on the market and their respective price tags.

Van Noy’s Possible Interest

Kyle Van Noy has spent his last three and a half seasons playing for the New England Patriots. The seven-year NFL veteran had a good relationship with Joe Judge, the Giants’ new head coach. Judge was with New England since 2012. 

When Van Noy learned of Judge’s promotion as New York’s new head coach, he was excited for his former special teams coordinator. While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show” this offseason, Kyle described Joe Judge as a “ball of energy” and a “really, really good coach” that loves football. At the end of his discussion about Joe Judge, Kyle Van Noy exclaimed: “Go, Giants!”

Of course, Van Noy is probably just showing support for his former coach. But, being that he is an impending free agent, Kyle Van Noy could have been hinting at a desire to reunite with Joe Judge in New York. If that is what Van Noy wants, the Giants should be on board and should pursue him in free agency.

New York Giants: Kyle Van Noy Should Be A Top FA Target

The New York Giants will be looking to fix their defense in the 2020 offseason. Free agency is right around the corner, and there has been lots of talk about the Giants making runs at the biggest names on the open market. However, fans need to temper their expectations. The Giants have significant money to spend, but it would be reckless to blow it all in one offseason.

The Giants will need to look at lesser expensive options as well as the stars that will be available. One name that the Giants should be linked to is linebacker/edge rusher Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is an impending free agent that could be an immense upgrade at a position of need for the Giants’ defense.

Ties To The New Head Coach

Kyle Van Noy has spent his last three and a half seasons playing for the New England Patriots. The seven-year NFL veteran had a good relationship with Joe Judge, the Giants’ new head coach. Judge was with New England since 2012. 

When Van Noy learned of Judge’s promotion as New York’s new head coach, he was excited for his former special teams coordinator. While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show” this offseason, Kyle described Joe Judge as a “ball of energy” and a “really, really good coach” that loves football. At the end of his discussion about Joe Judge, Kyle Van Noy exclaimed: “Go, Giants!”

Of course, Van Noy is probably just showing support for his former coach. But, being that he is an impending free agent, Kyle Van Noy could have been hinting at a desire to reunite with Joe Judge in New York. If that is what Van Noy wants, the Giants should be on board and should pursue him in free agency.

A Solid Pass-Rusher And An Elite Run-Defender

When looking at Kyle Van Noy’s career stats, it is noticeable that he has only 17.5 career sacks in seven seasons. However, there is more to the story. Van Noy played off-ball linebacker for most of his career. He has always been a dominant run-defender but has not been used much as a primary pass-rusher.

Granted, New England still sent Van Noy on many blitzes, and he was highly efficient. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy totaled 275 pass-rush snaps in the regular season and racked up 36 pressures (Pro Football Focus).

That changed this season when Kyle Van Noy changed positions. In New England’s 2019 defense, Kyle Van Noy was moved to edge rusher. In this role, Van Noy totaled 60 pressures, 6.5 sacks, and a pressure rate of 13.8%, which ranked 26th best at his position (Pro Football Focus).

Though he is a great pass-rusher, Kyle Van Noy is an elite run defender. He earned an 85.4 run-defense grade on Pro Football Focus, an elite grade that ranked top-five at his position. He also totaled 56 combined tackles and 7 tackles for loss in 2019 as an edge rusher. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy racked up 92 combined tackles.

Multi-Positional Versatility

Kyle Van Noy, as mentioned previously, is a former off-ball linebacker. However, in 2019, he switched positions and became an edge rusher. As a full-time edge rusher in 2019, Kyle had maybe the best season of his career. The Giants could sign him to play either position or both, but wherever he plays, he would be one of the most impactful players on the defense.

Van Noy’s versatility lines up with head coach Joe Judge’s vision. Judge made it clear that he prioritizes “personnel versatility” in his introductory press conference:

…I’ve prepared myself for was leading into every draft I studied every player in the draft as a player and an athlete. I didn’t look at them as a receiver, I didn’t look at them as a tight end, I didn’t look at them as a linebacker… I’m used to looking at things from a big picture perspective on players in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole… I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage. – Joe Judge, during his introductory press conference.

A Manageable Contract

Kyle Van Noy would bring upgraded pass-rushing and run-defending abilities to the Giants’ defense. His experience playing multiple positions at a high level makes him a reliable, versatile option for the Giants to pursue in the 2020 offseason. Additionally, Van Noy would cost a fraction of the price of the biggest pass-rushers in free agency (such as Ngakoue and Clowney). Players like that are in line for nearly $20 million, but Kyle Van Noy’s contract is projected to be three years, $31.5 million ($15 million guaranteed).

How can the New York Giants upgrade their secondary?

New York Jets, Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

The New York Giants pass defense was well documented as being one of the worst in the league last season.  The Giants secondary gave up more than 4,200 passing yards on the season (28th overall) and 7.1 yards per pass attempt (29th overall).  New York must upgrade their pass defense, but according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, those upgrades will not come from spending big in the cornerback market in free agency.

How will the New York Giants improve their pass defense?

Much of the headaches in the pass defense could be attributed to the lack of experience in the secondary.  Only three of the cornerbacks that saw impactful snap counts for the Giants defense last season had any playing time before last season.  Only one, Janoris Jenkins, started more than ten games heading into 2019. 

Many believe that the New York Giants may look at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft to help upgrade the cornerback position, but is adding more inexperience a good move?  Maybe. Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah seems to have the talent. However, adding a veteran presence to replace Janoris Jenkins looks to be the better move for New York.

If the rumors are true and the Giants won’t spend big on the cornerback market in free agency, who does that leave?  It most certainly rules out Byron Jones, assuming he doesn’t get an extension from Dallas. Jones will be one of the most highly sought free agents on the market and will likely get paid as such.  

Chris Harris, Jr., Logan Ryan, Bradley Roby, and Jimmy Smith are all free agents that made at or above $10 million per year on average.  However, is $10 million the bar for the Giants? Also, was their performance or age going to impact their number? I wouldn’t rule these names out like I would with Jones, but they may be just outside where New York is willing to go for the position.

So, who could the Giants target in free agency?

Former first-round selection for the Minnesota Vikings, Trae Waynes found himself not having an excellent coverage year in 2019.  His speed is his top trait, and he consistently has been good as a run defender. Unfortunately, his coverage ability has not been as consistent.  He shows flashes, but in the last four seasons has given up 16 touchdowns.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is another intriguing name for New York to keep an eye on.  He’s a solid cornerback, particularly in the slot, but has not been the most durable. With only one full season in the last six, health should undoubtedly be a concern for the Giants.  

I am sure the Giants would love to take Byron Jones away from a divisional rival and excel.  However, if the cost is an issue, there may be another option. Enter former Eagle Ronald Darby. Darby had an extremely forgetful 2019 season, posting an abysmal 45.9 grade with PFF.  He has battled injuries throughout his career and was put on injured reserve in December for a hip injury. Before 2019, Darby had been a very reliable starter, when healthy. Could he return to that form?

What is the Giants answer at improving the pass defense?

All of these options are risky.  Spend less money on inconsistent talent or durability concerns.  This has been the gamble that has hurt the New York Giants in other recent free agency moves.  The best way to help an inexperienced pass defense is to upgrade the pass rush. It’s been the story for the Giants all along, and that will not change.  

Yannick Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett, and Kyle Van Noy could all be and should be considerations for the Giants.  The Chase Young dream is unlikely. Isaiah Simmons is versatile and talented, but will that translate to a consistent threat in disrupting the quarterback?  Trading back and somehow taking a K’Lavon Chaisson, AJ Epenesa, or any of the other next tier rookie edge defenders is an option. Whatever the case, if the Giants want to improve the pass defense without spending big in free agency, the best way to do that is to spend big in getting to the quarterback.

New York Giants: Joe Judge Praised By Free Agent Kyle Van Noy

New York Giants, Kyle Van Noy

The New York Giants have their head coach, have their staff, and are soon going to enter the draft and free agency looking to load up on talent and fill some of the holes in the team that were responsible for the poor record over the past couple of seasons. It’s perhaps the most anticipated thing for the Giants in the past year or so – with the 2019 season going off the rails quickly, most turned their attention to the 2020 offseason after losing hope.

One position that the Giants may end up upgrading is linebacker, and if they do make such a move, one of their available options may be free agent Patriots defensive end slash outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, a two time Super Bowl winner who has some positive views of the current Giants head coach, Joe Judge.

“He’s a ball of energy. If he can take his energy he has and consistently, each and every day, line it up with that positive energy and not go, ‘Woo woo,’ all over the place, I think they’re going to be really, really good because he’s a really good coach,” Van Noy said to the Pat McAfee Show. He joins a number of others to praise the hire, notably including figures from Judge’s stints in New England under Bill Belichick and Alabama under Nick Saban.

“I’m excited for him with the Giants. Go Giants, right?” Van Noy added.

Those aren’t necessarily empty words, as there’s a legitimate chance that we see Van Noy come to the Giants in free agency this season. As it stands such a move could put him in competition with Lorezno Carter and Kareem Martin – a competition that Giants fans likely wouldn’t complain about considering the problems with the linebacker spot over the past couple of years.

Will a deal happen? Maybe or maybe not, but it’s a good sign so far that players appear willing to play for new head coach Joe Judge despite his unproven nature.