New York Giants name 2021 team captains ahead of Week One

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants are days away from kicking off their regular season. The team has announced its new team captains for the 2021 season with kickoff only six days away. There are a few players returning as captains with a couple of new names also added to the mix.

New York Giants 2021 Captains

Offensive Captains:

  • Daniel Jones
  • Saquon Barkley
  • Nick Gates

Defensive Captains:

  • Blake Martinez
  • Logan Ryan

Special Teams Captains

  • Jabrill Peppers
  • Graham Gano

Offense

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is entering his second season as a captain of the team. This is his third career season, one that fans expect to be a big breakout year. He is a carryover captain, along with star running back Saquon Barkley. Saquon was named a captain in 2019 and has maintained that role ever since.

The new captain on offense is starting center Nick Gates. Entering his third season with the team, Gates has been named a captain. Nick Gates has proven to be the definition of a good teammate and a hard worker during his time in New York.

Defense

For the first time in his nine-year career, Logan Ryan is a captain. Ryan spent many years as one of the best players on the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots defenses but was never named a captain. The Giants signed Ryan late last offseason and he instantly proved himself as one of the team’s best leaders. The Giants have awarded Logan Ryan with a captain’s patch in his second year with the team.

Blake Martinez is a captain for the second consecutive season. Martinez was one of the Giants’ splash signings in last year’s free agency period. He quickly proved himself as one of the best players on the team and had a career year with the Giants last season.

Special teams

Graham Gano is another new captain on the Giants. Another player entering his second season with the team, Gano earned his captain’s patch after having a phenomenal 2020 season where he made 31 of his 32 field goal attempts.

Jabrill Peppers earned his captain’s patch for the second consecutive season. Peppers brings that energy every Sunday and leads the team’s defense and special teams. Peppers contributes primarily as the team’s starting safety, but also as a punt returner. The Giants are expecting a huge year out of Peppers in 2021.

The New York Giants’ secondary has a challenging 2021 season on the horizon

The New York Giants’ 2021 schedule features a list of challenges for the team’s secondary. The Giants are set to face off against some of the best offensive weapons in the NFL this season. Wide receiver talent is plentiful in the modern NFL, a revelation the Giants will have this season.

Top wide receivers that the Giants will be facing in 2021:

(* indicates a player selected to a Pro Bowl, + indicates a player selected to an All-Pro team)

  • Jerry Jeudy
  • Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel (2x)
  • Calvin Ridley+, Kyle Pitts
  • Michael Thomas+ (maybe)
  • Amari Cooper*, CeeDee Lamb (2x)
  • Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp
  • Robby Anderson, DJ Moore
  • Tyreek Hill+, Travis Kelce+
  • Darren Waller+
  • Mike Evans*, Chris Godwin*, Rob Gronkowski+
  • DeVonta Smith (2x)
  • Will Fuller V
  • Keenan Allen*
  • Allen Robinson*

The New York Giants’ elite secondary

Thankfully, the New York Giants do seem to have the talent necessary to defend against these Pro Bowl and All-Pro receivers and tight ends. The Giants have invested a great number of assets into their secondary over the past few years. These investments have paid off as the Giants now possess one of the league’s best secondaries. New York’s 22 passing touchdowns allowed were tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL.

James Bradberry

The Giants’ secondary is led by star cornerback James Bradberry IV. In 2020, Bradberry was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection while being snubbed from the All-Pro teams. He set a new career-high with 18 passes defended, tied for the second-most in the NFL and only two behind Miami’s Xavien Howard for the league lead (Giants.com).

Logan Ryan

James Bradberry was one of two big free agent signings that the Giants made in their secondary last offseason. New York also signed safety Logan Ryan who had a stellar season during his first year with the Giants. Ryan totaled 93 combined tackles, forced 3 fumbles, and hauled in 1 interception.

Jabrill Peppers

Alongside Logan Ryan is another stud safety on the Giants’ defense: Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill had a career year in 2020, setting new career-highs in combined tackles (91), sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (8), and passes defended (11). Peppers is a phenomenal strong safety that impacts the run game and has the coverage skills to lock down tight ends and running backs.

Adoree’ Jackson

If there was one weakness in the Giants’ secondary last season, though, it was at the outside cornerback spot opposite of James Bradberry. The Giants had a revolving door at CB2. They made an effort to fill this hole in the 2021 offseason, signing former Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. This signing makes for a significant upgrade. Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6.

Xavier McKinney

The Giants like to run a lot of three-safety packages on defense. This means that second-year safety Xavier McKinney could see starting-level snaps in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier McKinney’s 70 overall grade was on track to be the highest-graded rookie safety of the season in his 212 snaps after coming back from injury, but he did not meet the minimum snap requirement.

Depth

Behind all of these starters, the Giants have plenty of depth in the secondary. Julian Love has proven to be a solid utility player in the secondary. Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson will compete at slot cornerback. Players like Isaac Yiadom and Rodarius Williams also provide the team with solid depth. The New York Giants secondary has a challenging 2021 season on the horizon, but it possesses the talent necessary to get the job done.

New York Giants: Logan Ryan on Joe Judge bringing him to Giants

new york giants, logan ryan

The New York Giants didn’t swing and miss when they added Logan Ryan last season in free agency. They did so following an injury to expected starter Xavier McKinney, but Ryan turned out to perform better than most would have expected from a replacement for an injured prospect.

Ryan has made himself a core part of the current group of Giants safeties, and earned himself an extension through 2023 that was signed this offseason despite some predicting him ending up elsewhere.

But what was it that brought Ryan to the Giants in the first place, after starting the offseason as a free agent that could have ended up with any team in the league? It appears that, according to Ryan himself, head coach Joe Judge played a large role in setting the Giants apart.

Ryan spoke on Good Morning Football on Wednesday, and one of the subjects was his dedication to Joe Judge.

“He allowed me to put my imprint on this young team and really allowed me to shine and show my work ethic. I just try to come in with that first one in, first one out mentality and really try to earn my stripes on this team,” Ryan said about Judge.

He claims that it was a candid conversation with Judge that led him to the Giants. And also that Judge was a coach that believed in him during a time when other teams didn’t believe in what he could do.

“I am really grateful for those times last year vying for a job and telling people what I can do, but all I really needed was the respect from one coach and that honesty. I’ll run through a wall for [Judge],” Ryan continued.

Joe Judge a major influence on Giants free agency

If it wasn’t clear already, it should be even more clear right now that Joe Judge is a big part of the moves the Giants make during free agency.

Many have suspected since his rookie season that Dave Gettleman is being made to compromise more in his role as general manager, and interviews like this with players seem to support the theory. It’s not Gettleman’s name that keeps coming up with free agents, but Judge’s.

Considering this, it’s hard to argue that Judge doesn’t have a big influence on the direction the Giants take in free agency these days. It’s something that seems like a positive, given the team’s better acquisitions over the past couple of years while Judge has been at the helm.

The New York Giants got so much more than they asked for with Logan Ryan

new york giants, logan ryan

When the New York Giants originally signed Logan Ryan to a one-year deal after rookie Xavier McKinney suffered a broken foot in training camp last year, they didn’t anticipate the impact the veteran defensive back would have on defense.

Ryan, having spent seven years in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, brought a wealth of experience to a young Giants defense in need of a leader. Ryan not only provided stellar defensive production last year but offered his wisdom to youngsters like McKinney and a rotation of corners at CB2. Ryan covered up many of the deficiencies the defense portrayed in 2020, utilizing a unique disguised safety strategy to confuse opposing play-callers and quarterbacks.

However, the Giants viewed the veteran as an integral piece to the puzzle this off-season, rewarding him with a three-year, $31 million deal with $20 million in guaranteed money. When looking at the contract, the Giants structured it with an out after the 2022 season, which would count just $1.5 million in dead money if Ryan takes a significant step backward, which would be a surprise in reality based on his efficiency last year.

How did Logan Ryan impact the New York Giants’ defense?

From a statistical standpoint, Ryan finished with 94 combined tackles, 4.0 QB hits, 1.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 9 passes defended, and 1 interception. He played in 96% of defensive snaps as a primary safety for Big Blue but displayed versatility moving up into the box and stopping the run adequately. According to PFF, Ryan enjoyed 246 snaps in the box, 221 at slot corner, and 512 at free safety. That type of flexibility is valuable for a defense, especially with weaknesses and the sudden reality of injuries in the NFL.

Ryan displayed many different utilities that convinced management to extend him, but his growth doesn’t end here, as he sought outward support from former Giants players to gauge their opinion on further development.

Logan took it upon himself to not only improve his play on the field but to also gauge the opinions of Giants greats from the past, looking to entrench himself in the conversation:

“I reached out personally this year to Antrel Rolle, I reached out to Jason Sehorn, and I reached out to Corey Webster,” Ryan said. “I reached out to those guys and said, ‘Hey, I want to pick your brain and be great like you. I respect what you have done in the past. Can you give me anything?'”

“All those guys were so honored and willing and eager to be a part of our secondary, and they were willing and eager to help out,” Ryan said. “They were thankful that I reached out to try to build the bridge between the current secondary and former greats. I want to be like them and lead those units, and I asked them personally how to be a better leader and a player. I’m an empty cup. They are filling it up, and I just try to relate that and try to teach the history of the franchise to the young guys so we know that our standard is to be one of those secondaries to make the organization and the fan base proud.”

This is a clear act of leadership from a stoic leader that represents a vastly different player compared to the likes of Antoine Bethea, who was asked to play a similar role under James Bettcher.
Ryan wore many hats this offseason, playing recruiter in the signing of Adoree’ Jackson and teacher as he curated training sessions down in Tampa with the secondary. The former Titan desires to be considered a ‘Giants Great,’ and while he might be a long way away from that reality, he’s undoubtedly on the right track.

The New York Giants should run a ton of three-safety sets in 2021

new york giants

The New York Giants‘ defense exceeded all expectations in the 2020 NFL season. They ranked ninth in the league in points allowed per game and twelfth in yards allowed per game. One of the reasons for the Giants’ great defensive success was defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s creative scheme.

Patrick Graham put his players in a position to play to their strengths in 2020. One of the ways he did this was playing a lot of nickel defensive packages that featured three safeties on the field. Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan formed one of the best safety duos in the NFL last season. The Giants also enjoyed the talents of Julian Love, their versatile utility player in the secondary. Towards the end of the season, fans got a glimpse of what the Giants’ defense might look like in 2021 once Xavier McKinney returned to the lineup.

Last year, the Giants loved running three-safety sets. But in 2021, the Giants should run so many three-safety sets that it becomes their base defense. Running these nickel packages will allow the Giants to get their most talented defenders on the field more frequently while also masking any thin depth that the Giants have in their front seven.

Why the Giants should play a lot of nickel defense next season

The New York Giants have put together an excellent defensive unit. Their defensive line has a couple of studs in Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. Blake Martinez has proven to be a premier inside linebacker. But the real strength of this Giants’ defense is now its secondary.

James Bradberry leads the Giants’ secondary as one of the NFL’s best outside cornerbacks. New York paired him with Adoree’ Jackson on the other side this offseason, a duo that could be elite this season. Rounding out the Giants’ secondary are a bunch of young, talented safeties and slot cornerbacks.

Darnay Holmes was impressive as a fourth-round rookie this past season, yet the Giants still went ahead and added another talented nickel corner in Aaron Robinson via the 2021 NFL Draft. Jabrill Peppers is emerging as one of the best box safeties in the NFL who thrives as a moneybacker in Patrick Graham’s defense. And, of course, Xavier McKinney will enter the lineup in his second season. The former second-round pick was thought to be a first-round talent when the Giants stole him in round two. They’ll want to get all of these guys on the field as much as possible.

In order to get Holmes, Robinson, McKinney, and Peppers on the field with frequency, the Giants will need to play a lot of nickel coverage and many packages where the team has three safeties on the field. The Giants did this a lot last year, spending much of their time in a nickel 3-3-5 package. But this season it will be even more crucial that this package hits the field as the Giants try to get Xavier McKinney to establish himself in the NFL.

Additionally, there is not a ton of depth behind Blake Martinez at the inside linebacker position. The Giants’ depth is a little thin there, as it is at nose tackle as well. To supplement this weakness, the Giants should play nickel formations where there are fewer defensive linemen and linebackers on the field. Put that talented trio of safeties and that exciting young duo of slot cornerbacks to work this season.

The New York Giants’ secondary is loaded with talent entering the 2021 season

New York Giants, James Bradberry, logan ryan

The New York Giants defense was one of the league’s best in the 2020 season. Entering 2021, the Giants’ defense has only gotten better. The Giants defense allowed only 22.3 points per game last season, giving them a top-ten unit. Yet, New York still went into the offseason and added even more talent to their defense.

The Giants’ secondary was the strength of the team last year. Cornerback James Bradberry looked like a blanket on the field, consistently shutting down opposing receivers. New York also enjoyed a dynamic safety tandem of Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan. However, there were a couple of holes in the Giants’ secondary.

Opposite of Bradberry, New York had a revolving door at their second outside cornerback position. Corey Ballentine, Ryan Lewis, and ultimately Isaac Yiadom saw plenty of reps as the starter. The Giants recognized that position as a weakness and went out to fix it this offseason. Along with a new CB2 in Adoree’ Jackson, the Giants also added depth at cornerback and created an interesting competition at slot cornerback. The New York Giants have loaded their secondary with talent heading into 2020.

The Giants’ talented secondary

James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Jabrill Peppers were the stars of the Giants’ secondary in 2020. They also enjoyed the presence of a quality utility player in Julian Love. Xavier McKinney was also impressive at the end of the season coming off of an injury that kept him sidelined for the majority of his rookie season. Take all of this talent, now combine it with plenty more.

Adoree’ Jackson enters the Giants’ lineup as their new CB2. Jackson will allow the Giants to transition back into their more man-press-heavy coverage scheme. Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6. The Giants got a bonafide CB1 (when healthy) to play CB2 for them on the outside.

Darnay Holmes was an impressive rookie slot cornerback who did not allow a touchdown in coverage during the 2020 season. He will compete alongside new rookie Aaron Robinson out of UCF in the slot. A-Rob is physical and should see a good amount of playing time inside along with Holmes.

Then, of course, Xavier McKinney is entering his sophomore season. Xavier flashed great potential at the end of the 2020 season and will see plenty of playing time in 2021. He could have a major breakout covering the back end of the Giants’ defense.

On top of these talented starting-level players, the Giants added a lot of quality depth to their secondary. Isaac Yiadom started 10 games last year and will be a solid depth piece at cornerback. The Giants also added Rodarius Williams at the back end of the 2021 NFL Draft, another physical man-to-man corner.

The New York Giants took one of their strongest units and made it even stronger in the 2021 offseason. It was hard enough for opposing quarterbacks to move the football against the New York Pass Defense in 2021. The New York Giants’ talent-loaded secondary is going to make Sundays even more challenging for opposing quarterbacks in 2021.

New York Giants: Logan Ryan leads DBs in Tampa training

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

This will be another strange offseason for everyone. The NFL is still affected by COVID-19 and earlier in the year, the New York Giants joined the teams that would skip voluntary workouts due to the risk of the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that training is going to come to a complete halt leading up to the season.

While the team’s rookies and free agent tryouts performed at rookie mini-camp, safety Logan Ryan was making sure that the secondary also got in some practice. In this case, the location happened to be somewhere warmer than East Rutherford: Tampa.

Upgrades to the secondary for 2021

It’s important that the Giants secondary gets some experience early on working together because it’s going to be a different group this season. The biggest addition, obviously, is Adoree’ Jackson. With the addition, the Giants finally have a number two cornerback that they can be proud of and he’ll join existing corner James Bradberry, who already had a reputation from last season for locking up the other team’s best weapons.

The Giants will also have last year’s draft pick Xavier McKinney around from the start in 2021, assuming he can avoid picking up another injury in the offseason. While McKinney showed promise, he was only able to get on the field last year by the time things were already headed downhill.

The position group has further depth than it did in previous seasons, too – Jackson is not the only Titan to join them. They also picked up his former teammate from Tennessee, Joshua Kalu, after he finished with a career high 16 tackles.

Players don’t always adapt right away to having new teammates, so it’s good to see the Giants secondary working out as a group already. It may pay dividends later, if it helps the Giants and the secondary specifically avoid another slow start with a number of early season losses.

New York Giants: 3 cornerbacks to consider in free agency to fill void CB2 spot

xavier rhodes, New York Giants

The New York Giants revamped their secondary from 2019 to 2020. They brought in a bunch of new faces this past offseason, signing Logan Ryan and James Bradberry, and the Giants drafted Xavier McKinney in the second-round.

Their secondary was the fifth-worst pass defense in 2019. They allowed 264.1 passing yards per game in 2019, but in 2020, only allowed 237.9 passing yards per game. The Giants were in the middle of the pack for best pass defense, coming in at 16th.

Safety’s Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Xavier McKinney are the future, and Bradberry island is a real thing. The G-Men just need another cornerback to go alongside Bradberry.

Here are three free agents the Giants should consider in free agency:

Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes was one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL this past season, but in 2017-2019, he struggled. The Minnesota Vikings decided to part ways with Rhodes this past offseason. Rhodes signed a one-year, $3,250,000 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Rhodes recorded 42 tackles, 12 pass defends, and two interceptions this past season. With these solid stats, Rhodes could earn himself a pay increase but not too much where it will be out of the Giants’ price range.

If the Giants could find some money to give to Rhodes and if the secondary could repeat what they did this past season, this could easily be one of the best secondaries in 2021.

Jason McCourty

Will Logan Ryan recruit Jason McCourty to New York? The New York native just finished up his two-year deal with the New England Patriots — could McCourty team up with Joe Judge down in New York to finish his career?

McCourty has been a versatile cornerback who has played as an above-average outside cornerback for almost his entire career. McCourty has 723 career tackles, 106 pass defends, and 18 interceptions, and a Super Bowl Ring with Judge.

If McCourty wants to come to New York and leave his twin brother, the Giants have the capital to bring him in. He will have an opportunity to play alongside a Pro Bowl cornerback in Bradberry if he wants to.

Ross Cockrell

It seems like Ross Cockrell’s name is always in talks to come back to New York. With the Giants now having a better all-around team and an excellent secondary, he could come in and compete for the starting job on the outside.

Cockrell is currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; they are on their way to go play in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. With the Buccaneers stud cornerbacks, Cockrell has seen the least amount of playing time since his rookie season. Starting only two games and only recorded two pass breakups.

Cockrell only got a one-year deal with the Buccaneers for less than a million. But I will speak for all Giants fans here, we do not want another Cockrell fake signing again. Cockrell backed out of a deal this past offseason.

New York Giants secondary lacking according to PFF rankings

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants improved in the secondary this season, but they still have some ways to go. The main improvements, of course, were the additions of James Bradberry and Logan Ryan. And while Xavier McKinney spent much of the year injured, his return to the field sets up an intriguing next season with him playing besides Ryan and Jabrill Peppers.

Despite the improvements, the Giants still have a need at number two corner. That seems to have dragged them down when Pro Football Focus went over the league’s secondaries and put the Giants in the bottom half.

18. NEW YORK GIANTS

New York is this high because of one man only: James Bradberry. The fifth-year corner was signed to a monster contract this past offseason after four middling years with the Carolina Panthers. He didn’t play at a high level in his four years with Carolina, failing to surpass a 70.0 PFF grade in every season, so the contract was risky, to say the least.

But Bradberry proved all the doubters wrong and justified his pay this season. He ranked fifth among outside corners in coverage grade and fourth in forced incompletion rate (21%). There were quite a few missed tackles from him (14), but that’s something you can live with if he keeps up this shutdown play.

Some might disagree with where the Giants were placed as well as the dismissive assessment of non-Bradberrry members of the secondary because this take makes no mention of impact players Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan.

In fact, Ryan had his second best season in the tackling department in 2020 when he racked up 94. His three forced fumbles were also the second most he’s had in a season, and those who watched the Giants before his arrival can attest to his impact.

Jabrill Peppers also stepped up at safety this season and had a career high in both tackles and passes defended, registering a total of 11 in the latter category. That’s a big step up from his 5 the previous season. It gives him one of the highest totals overall this year at the strong safety position.

The Giants do indeed have a need for a number two cornerback, however, which may be addressed through the draft if the front office doesn’t target offense first, or a pass rusher. Alabama corner Patrick Surtain has been brought up as a name in the mix for the Giants to draft at the position, but with a number of other needs too, it’s not clear which way the Giants will go with the 11th pick.

New York Giants extend safety Logan Ryan on 3-year deal

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

Merry Christmas! The New York Giants extended star safety Logan Ryan, on a three-year, $31 million deal, with $20 million guaranteed, per Ian Rapoport. Ryan bought into himself in 2020 with the Giants, accepting a one-year offer at safety, a position he transitioned to from cornerback.

The Giants believe Ryan is an irreplaceable defensive player and one who has brought the Giants to new heights in 2020 with Patrick Graham as their defensive coordinator. Through 14 games, Ryan has 83 combined tackles, four quarterback hits, 1.0 sack, nine passes defended, and three forced fumbles. He also has one interception.

Overall, the Giants will have to find ways to open up more cap space, especially if they want to bring back players like Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. Free agency will be tough to maneuver, especially with the salary cap expected to drop this offseason due to COVID-19 complications.

Nonetheless, Ryan has made the transition to safety an excellent fashion, becoming a staple in the Giants’ defense. He will not pair with Xavier McKinney and Jabrill Peppers for the foreseeable future, a trio that has proven to be extremely efficient and productive in recent weeks.