Nothing has been easy for the Giants’ defense early this season.
They haven’t helped themselves at times. They got their first sack of the season Thursday at San Francisco. They’re still waiting for their first turnover. The Giants are minus-5 in turnover margin.
That first sack was by outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux on 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.
Both on offense and on defense, the Giants have put up uneven performances through three games. Hence, their 1-2 record.
Safety Xavier McKinney believes he knows what ails the Giants defensively.
“I don’t think we’ve started fast,” he said. “[And] we don’t have any turnovers. I think those are two of the big keys in my mind.”
Being more opportunistic would help.
That could be a point of emphasis for the Giants as they prepare for Monday night’s game against the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium.
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson also lamented the Giants’ inability to get off the field.
“We didn’t tackle well [against the 49ers],” he said. “We didn’t execute our assignments.”
McKinney agreed, to an extent.
“We’ve got to be better with it, but that’s not why we lost two games, in my opinion,” he said. “The fundamentals matter, and we’ve got to be a lot better in that aspect, which we will. I’m not going to stress too much over that because I know that we’re a good-tackling team.”
McKinney was more concerned about the Giants’ inability to create a turnover through three games.
“For me as an individual, that’s something that I’m constantly trying to figure out — how to be able to force turnovers and get the ball back for our offense,’’ he said. “Even the game that we won [at Arizona], we still didn’t have any turnovers that game. So really, in the three games that we’ve played, I think that’s the biggest thing for me and for our defense.”
Tackling has been an issue for the Giants, particularly in their past two games, against Arizona and San Francisco.
“Just need to be better tacklers,” McKinney said. “It’s something we’ve got to practice, but then most importantly on Sundays, just got to be better. I think it’s pretty simple.”
Linebacker Micah McFadden is the Giants’ leader in tackles with 17; he also has seven missed tackles. Jason Pinnock (16), Bobby Okereke (15) and McKinney (13) follow.
“We need to perfect [our tackling] and we can’t exactly simulate it during practice,” McFadden said. “But we can drill it and get reps doing it, so that’ll definitely be an emphasis this week. With the ([tackles for loss] I think that’s just making the plays when my number is called and when I have the opportunity to run through a gap or chase the ball down and make a play behind the line of scrimmage. I think that’s helpful for the team, and I want to continue to make those plays moving forward.”
After last week’s compressed schedule, the Giants should have time to continue to perfect their craft this week.
“I mean, we all rely on each other,” McKinney said. “I think that’s how our building works. I think that’s how this team works. I think that’s how this organization works. Just relying on each other, depending upon each other to do whatever you’ve got to do to be able to do your job at the highest level.”
McKinney said there still is accountability and added: “We hold each other accountable at all times. I think it’s a collective. A collective thing as a team. We’re all in it together regardless of the situation, win or lose. So that’s what it is.”