This feels like a big week for the Giants.
Yes, we get it, they’re all big in the NFL.
But, at 1-2, the Giants already could be in a seemingly uncomfortable situation.
After entertaining the Seahawks on Monday night, road games at Miami and Buffalo follow.
It feels like Monday night is a big game for Big Blue.
To that general point, Giants safety Jason Pinnock told Newsday: “Where we are now isn’t where we’re going to be.”
Pinnock said there is no panic in the locker room.
There has been renewed emphasis for the defense to limit yards after catches.
Deebo Samuel of the 49ers and CeeDee Lamb of the Cowboys rank as two of the top six players in yards-after-catch this season. Both were successful in that category against the Giants.
“You can’t win that way,” Pinnock said. “Yards after catch, missed tackles. We’re just tightening that up.”
“I think it’s also [a matter of] giving credit where credit is due,” he said. “Those are great runners. I’m sure if PFF [Pro Football Focus] does its thing, it would show that Deebo and [49ers teammate Christian] McCaffrey get a lot of yards after catch and yards after contact. It’s an identity thing. Something they pride themselves on. That’s not an excuse for me or any of my teammates. We got to get them on the ground.”
McCaffrey leads the league with 353 rushing yards and has made 11 catches on 12 targets for 70 yards.
For the Giants, it seems as if their focus these days has to be inward, and Pinnock agreed.
“I think that’s the biggest thing I love about this team,” he said. “[Adversity] brings us closer. It’s not like basketball or baseball where they play [so many games]. We’re talking about [one game] all week. Things are emphasized, but we don’t panic. If anything, it brings us closer.”
The one constant with the Giants' defense is its commitment to the blitz under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.
The Giants sent at least five rushers on 33 of Brock Purdy’s 39 dropbacks last Thursday night at San Francisco.
That ranks as the highest blitz rate (84.6%) in the Next Gen Stats era, which began in 2017.
Purdy finished 20 of 31 for 247 yards and two scores when the Giants sent pressure. Purdy also averaged the fastest time to throw of his career (2.34 seconds).
This season, Martindale has called blitzes on more than half of the Giants' defensive snaps. The team has only two sacks and is still looking for its first takeaway.
Players remain resolute in support of the aggressiveness.
“I love playing fast and physical,” said middle linebacker Bobby Okereke, a first-year Giant who joined the team in free agency from the Colts. “And I think that’s why coach Martindale blitzes so much, so players can play free. There’s not a lot of thinking, and that’s what you want to eliminate. You want to eliminate thinking and just have fast decision-making.”
For cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, making defensive improvements begins with fundamentals. And once those fundamentals are established, he said, the defensive production will improve.
“We know it’s still early, we keep going, keep clicking, keep just coming with the same intention, the same mentality and just trying to improve as well,” Jackson said. “We know those things will come. Obviously, we want more turnovers and more sacks, but with this being so early, you just never know how this league turns. Like I said, we were 7-2 [last season] and we didn’t have too many sacks or too many turnovers. We know that things are going to change. We know things will change in our favor.”