Sep 25, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (20) runs the ball after an interception against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Earlier, I took a look at some standout offensive players for the New York Giants from their week 4 battering of the Washington Redskins based on Pro Football Focus grades from the game. Now, let’s take a look at some players on the defensive side of the ball for the GMEN.
A royal effort – Prince Amukamara kept his very good start to the season rolling on Thursday against the Redskins. Prince had the highest overall grade by a Giants defender at 2.6. He really shined in pass coverage, posting a 2.4 grade in that aspect, and also hauling in an interception. Prince was thrown at 5 times and gave up 2 receptions for 26 yards. Prince is now tied with the 4th best overall grade for cornerbacks in the NFL through four weeks (5.4). It really seems like the former first round pick is starting to develop into the shutdown corner the Giants hoped he would become.
Who needs Justin Tuck? – Robert Ayers continues to impress at defensive end for the GMEN. Ayers posted the second highest overall PFF grade by a Giants defender with a 2.4. Ayers was in for 26 snaps and really excelled in rushing the passer, generating 2 QB hits and 1 QB hurry.
Replacement players, says who? – Two replacement players really had good games on the Giants defense.
One, Trumaine McBride, is now the nickel corner after Walter Thurmond III’s season was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle. McBride posted a very solid 1.7 pass coverage grade, allowing only 2 receptions for 29 yards on 4 targets.
The other, Quintin Demps, was replacing a healthy, but ineffective, Stevie Brown. Demps held up well in his 57 snaps, posting a 1.5 grade in coverage and hauling in an interception.
The not so good – Despite the dominating effort by the GMEN, there were a couple of players on the defensive side of the ball who had some issues.
Linebacker, Mark Herzlich, being forced into duty due to injuries to Jon Beason and Devon Kennard, continues to be exposed in pass coverage. Herzlich posted a putrid -2.8 pass coverage grade as he was targeted 3 times and gave up 3 receptions for 81 yards.
Defensive tackle, Cullen Jenkins, who has been having a solid year so far, interestingly had negative grades across the board (-1.9 rush defense & -0.5 pass rush).
Jameel McClain, forced to start at middle linebacker with Beason sidelined, struggled in run defense, receiving a -2.7 grade in that aspect of the game.
Surprisingly, another player who struggled in run defense, according to PFF, was Antrel Rolle. Rolle was given a -2.3 run defense grade, but made up for it in pass coverage (1.0), hauling in an interception.
Overall, the Giants struggled a bit against the run, giving up 86 yards on only 17 rushing plays (5.1 yards per rush). Luckily, with the Giants offense firing on all cylinders, and Kirk Cousins giving away interceptions like Oprah Winfrey gives away free gifts, the GMEN were able to get out to a big lead and force the Redskins to throw the ball. Going forward, the Giants will need to do better against the run. However, it was good to see that the Giants defense is back to making big plays and creating turnovers, forcing four interceptions. Things will only get harder for this unit, as their next four games are all against high powered offenses (Falcons, Eagles, Cowboys & Colts).