There is plenty blame to go around in the Giants’ 1-2 start, and for the defense, that especially applies to its tackling.
The Giants missed a whopping 16 tackles in last Thursday’s 30-12 loss to the Niners — their most in a game since Week 5 of the 2019 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
But that single effort can’t simply be written off as an anomaly against a Super Bowl contender. Too often this defense has been on the wrong end of a highlight reel rather than making its own game-changing play, like when safety Xavier McKinney was trucked near the goal line by Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs for a touchdown in Week 2.
“Fundamentals matter and they’re always going to matter, and we’ll be better with it,” McKinney said Monday. “I’m not going to stress too much over that, because I know that we’re a good tackling team. Obviously, we’re just going through a little hiccup, but like I said, we’ll correct it, and we’ll keep moving forward. Not going to stress over it, though.”
The Giants’ secondary has had the most warts. Rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III have been whiffing on tackles in run support, and safety Jason Pinnock is failing to consistently wrap up ball carriers and receivers in the open field as well.
McKinney said tackling will be an emphasis in practice this week, but ultimately, he doesn’t feel as though missed tackles were the reason the Giants lost two games.
Rather, he points toward the defense’s slow starts (49 points allowed in six first-half quarters, not counting defensive and special teams touchdowns by the Cowboys) and lack of turnovers. The Giants are one of three teams that doesn’t have a single takeaway — and that was before the Rams played their Week 3 game on Monday night.
“I think those are two of the big keys in my mind,” McKinney said. “Right now, we’re just trying to figure out a way where we can be able to force these turnovers. For me as an individual, that’s something that I’m constantly trying to figure out, is how to be able to force turnovers and get the ball back for our offense.”
The Giants also rank second-to-last in the NFL with two sacks. Both came in San Francisco, despite defensive coordinator Wink Martindale blitzing on 33 of Brock Purdy’s 39 dropbacks (84.6 percent). That is the highest blitz rate ever recorded by Next Gen Stats (since 2014).
New York did manage to create pressure with the additional rushers, but San Francisco countered with screens and quick passes in space. The Niners converted 9 of 16 third downs and nearly doubled the Giants in time of possession (39:10 to 20:50) with long drives.
Purdy passed for 310 yards, but 215 of those came after the catch — which again points to tackling issues and blown assignments.
“The point about tackling, I think it’s just something you bring it to the forefront of your mind and that’s the focus as we move forward throughout the season, that we need to perfect that and we can’t exactly simulate it during practice, but we can drill it and get reps doing it that way, so that’ll definitely be an emphasis this week,” said inside linebacker Micah McFadden, who was one of few bright spots on the defense last Thursday with a career-high 10 tackles including four tackles-for-loss.
The good news is the Giants have a whole 11 days between games because they don’t play again until next Monday against the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. McFadden said the team would hold its first walkthrough of the game plan Tuesday, but players had already begun watching film of Seattle.
The Seahawks won this matchup last year, 27-13, and scored 37 points in both wins against the Lions and the Panthers in Weeks 2 and 3. They currently rank 16th in rushing yards per game (104.3) while the Giants’ defense ranks 29th in that department (138), so even though New York opens as 1.5-point underdogs, it won’t be easy to avoid falling to 1-3.
“I think it’s just trust the process and trust what we’ve been building, all the way since back in the springtime and training camp,” McFadden said of Martindale’s message to his unit. “That’s just staying together, staying as a team, believing in what we are doing and the work we’ve put in, building on the things we’ve done well, and correcting the things that we need to improve on so that we can move forward, get some wins and continue to grow as a team and as a unit.”
Source: Berkshire mont