Veteran Giants safety stepping up at the right time for Wink Martindale

This defensive captain has improved his play over the last few weeks

New England Patriots v New York Giants
New England Patriots v New York Giants / Al Bello/GettyImages

It's been a rollercoaster of a season for the NY Giants in 2023 so far, but they've been able to find recent success with consecutive victories over the Commanders and Patriots. The Giants now sit at 4-8 heading into the BYE week. They're currently slated to pick sixth in April's draft while simultaneously still fighting for a Wild Card spot, only two games out from the No. 7 seed in the NFC.

A massive reason as to why the Giants have been competitive is their defense. After failing to force a turnover from Weeks 1-4, they've accumulated 19 takeaways since Week 5, which is tied for fourth most in the NFL. They were able to force three interceptions in Sunday's 10-7 win over the Patriots, one of those coming from safety Xavier McKinney, who has stepped up in recent weeks.

Xavier McKinney improving play in recent weeks is huge for the G-Men

In their last two wins, Xavier McKinney has been noticeably better than his play showed in previous weeks. He's had 23 tackles, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery in wins against Washington and New England.

McKinney was able to grab his first interception of the year this past Sunday, sniffing out a pass from Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe. It was McKinney's first interception since the 2021 season, where he had a career-high five interceptions. The Giants captain earned the second-highest PFF grade among safeties in Week 12 for his performance.

Heading into the BYE week with some momentum and the Giants potentially eyeing a playoff spot, they'll need McKinney to keep his level of play high. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been on fire with his schemes and more of the same will be needed Week 14 against the Green Bay Packers.