Giants Team Defense – The Secondary

Today I look at the defensive Giant’s secondary. The Giants are 25th in passing yards per game allowed (258.6 yards). They are 28th in passer rating allowed (101.7).  The Giants are tied for last in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.5 yards). They are 28th in opposition touchdown % with 5.7% touchdowns thrown when attempting to pass. While the Giant’s pass rush is not nearly as good as it was in their glory days it is not near the bottom of the league. In quarterback pressure percentage they are 22.2% which is tie for 17th in the league.  A large part of their pass defense woes rests on the play of their secondary. Let’s look at those players.

Cornerbacks

20 Janoris Jenkins CB 5-10 190 31 2016/UFA 2021

Janoris Jenkins has four interceptions and 14 passes defended over 12 games this season. That productivity is first (interceptions – tie) and second (passes defended) in his career. His four interceptions is tie for fourth in the league. His passer rating allowed is 62.1 which is 26th out of 267 qualifying players. His 51.4% completion percentage allowed is 22nd of 267. Janoris Jenkins has one pass interference call against him this season for 25 yards and four defensive holding calls for a total of 20  yards.

23 Sam Beal CB 6-1 177 23 2018/3 2022

Sam Beal’s pro day results for the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump all met cornerback target goals. His vertical and broad jump would be in the top ten for cornerbacks in 2018. As reported on Pro Football Focus Sam Beal allowed the lowest passer rating (35.2) in the MAC on throws into his coverage in 2017. In 2019 Beal played in only 8% of the Giants defensive snaps. He was targeted twice and gave up two receptions for 15 yards total. He also has one pass interference penalty for 11 yards.

34 Grant Haley CB 5-9 190 23 2018/UDFA 2020

Grant Haley was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent following the 2018 draft. Pro Football Focus rated Haley as one of the top graded rookie cornerbacks in 2018 and one of the top five overall cornerbacks in the NFC East. However the statistics for 2018 do not concur. In 2018 Haley had a 126.9 passer rating allowed when targeted (35 out of 40 rookie defensive backs with 10+ targets) and allowed a 63.9% completion percentage (21 out of 40 rookie defensive backs with 10+ targets). He allowed four touchdowns which was tie at 21 out of 28 rookie cornerbacks with 25+ targets.

So far in 2019 PFF has graded Haley with a 53.3 grade. In 2019 Haley allowed a 111.8 passer rating when targeted and a 82.1% completion percentage for 32 completions. He had zero passes defended and has yet to get an interception. He committed one pass interference penalty for 15 yards. His 8.8 yards per target allowed is tie for 214th among 267 players.

30 Antonio Hamilton CB 6-0 190 26 2018/Waivers 2020

Like Cody Core, Antonio Hamilton is a bright spot as a gunner on special teams. Hamilton has recorded three solo tackles on special teams which is second only behind Cody Core. As reported by Patricia Traina, in almost every punt either Core or Hamilton is usually the first player down field.

In coverage Hamilton has not done well. He has logged his highest defensive snap percentage (6%) of his four year career this season. He was targeted eight times and gave up eight receptions for 81 yards. He has averaged allowing 5.75 yards after the catch per reception.

27 Deandre Baker CB 5-11 180 22 2019/1 2023

In his rookie season Deandre Baker is 28th in Passer Rating allowed (119 on 63 targets) among 33 defensive back rookies with 10+ targets. His 63.5% completion percentage was 17th among 33 rookie defensive backs with 10+ targets. His 10.3 yards allowed per target was 29th among the 33 rookie defensive backs. Baker’s average 5.2 yards after the catch per reception was 26th among the 33.  Baker has zero interceptions and only three passes defended. He has three pass interference penalties, tow defensive holding and one unsportsmanlike conduct for a total of 93 yards in penalties. he leads the Giants in penalty yards by 43 yards. Baker is not on Twitter and tunes out the negative comments. He vows to become an elite corner. Baker played in 87% of the defensive snaps at week 13.

25 Corey Ballentine CB 5-11 196 23 2019/6 2023

In his rookie season Corey Ballentine is 29th in Passer Rating allowed (119.7 on 25 targets)  among 33 defensive back rookies with 10+ targets. He is 23rd among those rookies with a 72% completion percentage. His 10.6 yards allowed per target is 31st among those 33 rookies. His 5.72 yards allowed after the catch is 30th among those 33 rookies. Ballentine has zero interceptions and one pass defensed on only 23% of the defensive snap counts. Ballentine has zero penalties committed.

Free Safety

24 Julian Love FS 5-10 195 21 2019/4 2023

Julian Love has played in 13% of the defensive snaps mostly in the last two games. He has one interception, one pass defended, one forced fumble and five solo tackles. He was targeted twice for two completions and 23 yards. He has zero missed tackles and an average of only 3.5 yards after the catch per reception. He is one of the bright spots among the rookies and looks to get more playing time as the year winds down.

41 Antoine Bethea FS 5-11 206 35 2019/UFA 2021

Antoine Bethea has had 24 targets and allowed 20 receptions for an 83.3% completion percentage. That is tie for 309th out of 334 players that had 10+ passing targets. His 141 passer rating allowed when targeted is 323rd. His 16.4 yards allowed per target is second to last. His 8.3 yards allowed after the catch is 322nd. He has allowed six touchdowns which is tie at 329th.  Bethea has one interception and three passes defended on 100% of the defensive snaps. He has only one penalty for defensive holding for zero yards.

In Conclusion

The argument that they are young is not that strong an argument. There are five teams that have two starters in the secondary 22 years old or younger and one team (ARZ) that have three. One of the Giants young starters, Julian Love, started only one game.  The Packers have two starters 22 years old that started 10 ad 12 games.

The coaching staff had been called out by Janoris Jenkins following the Green Bay game. His gripe was that they do not have him travel with the opposition’s best receiver. Whether his gripe is a legitimate coaching flaw is secondary to the fact that tension between the staff and the secondary player spilled out to the media.

The Giants coaching staff has Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher. Bettcher has a history of coaching linebackers, defensive ends, special teams and defensive line but there does not appear to be any specific defensive backs coaching experience. The Defensive Backs Coach Everett Withers definitely has that experience but only at the college level. In fact this year is his first NFL experience.  The Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Henry Baker likewise is in his first year coaching in the NFL. However Henry Baker has some professional experience. Baker was a four-year letter-winner and two-year starter in the Maryland secondary from 1994-97. He signed with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 2003 after time in the Arena Football League and AFL2.

The coaching staff is one area the team may need to look at for next season specifically for secondary coaching. Perhaps an experienced NFL secondary assistant coach can be brought in. Although the development of Julian Love and Jenkins improvement are positives for the current staff.

After having spent four draft picks on secondary players over the last two drafts, the Giants may need to seriously consider at least another in the upcoming draft. They need to play Julian Love more to see if he could be a starter in 2020.

Enjoy the Monday Night Game – Go Giants !  Go Eli !!

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