These NY Giants free-agent signings are paying off for the defense

James Bradberry, NY Giants (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
James Bradberry, NY Giants (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Three weeks into the 2020 season, these NY Giants top-performing free agent acquisitions have helped solidify the defense.

Ranked among the first in the NFL on limiting first down yards per game, the NY Giants defense also sits at the bottom of the league for allowing second and third-down conversions.

In short, the Patrick Graham-run defense is far from perfect even though some of their players have been playing pretty darn close to perfection.

Aside from the team’s demoralizing Week 3 defeat at the hands of an injury-riddled San Francisco 49ers team, silver lining remains in Big Blue’s secondary and linebacker units. Cornerback James Bradberry and free safety Logan Ryan have been welcome additions to a secondary starving for leaders and tight coverage.

So far this season they have recorded a combined 29 total tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception, and 11 passes defended.

A depleted secondary was one of the 2019 Giants’ biggest weaknesses, but after inking Bradberry to a three-year, $45 million deal, and Ryan to a one-year, $5 million deal, this position was instantly upgraded. As a group though, they need to come together if they want to improve their league-worst 58.14 percent conversion rate against opposing offenses on third downs.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the field, linebacker Blake Martinez has proven to be a tackling machine with a combined 30 tackles (T-6th in NFL) and two sacks through the first three weeks of his debut season wearing blue. The hustle in his game is something the Giants have not had in the middle of their defense in years.

In a past article analyzing the Giants defense, Martinez’s projected success on defense seemed as though it would translate into the team turning things around on defense. So far, this three-year, $30 million signing has not disappointed.

Overall, the lingering issue the Giants defense continues to face is their disjointed playing style, which was demonstrated in Week 3 against a battered 49ers squad.

Big Blue’s defense looked totally flat against the Nick Mullens-led offense, as they were unable to get off the field; losing the time of possession battle 39:44 minutes to 20:16 minutes while allowing 420 total yards against the 49ers backup quarterback, as they fell 36-9 at home.

Mullens line on the day finished with 343 passing yards, one touchdown pass, and a 108.9 passer rating. One would not be faulted for thinking the Giants had been the ones fielding second and third stringers in their demoralizing Week 3 defeat at home.

The question that now arises is, what is the identity of this team? Unlike their Week 1 performance where they showed toughness against a talented Pittsburgh Steelers team and Week 2 where they showed resilience after halftime in Chicago, Week 3 just showed a defeated football team.

When Joe Judge was hired, he said he wanted to establish a strong foundation and build from there. It would seem the Giants have more or less achieved a foundation they can build upon – like these three defensive workhorses.

Only, at this rate, one wonders if Judge will be granted the time to groom this roster and win with his old school approach of physical practices and stressing the idea of team.

If the Giants continue to regress, the clock is going to be ticking on someone’s job. Perhaps someone farther up the chain than the head coach.

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