The New York Giants rode the strength of their defensive front four to victories over the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. But that strength turned to mush last season, as New York scuffled to a 7-9 season that included a 0-6 start. At their season-ending press conference, New York’s brass promised changes, which by any definition, have come for Big Blue.
Prior to Monday, the changes made by the front office to the G-men’s roster, were typical of Big Blue recently; merely strengthening the team with solid starters. But to get back to prominence, New York needed to acquire more stars, rather than solid resumes, in order to get back to the top.
Players like Geoff Schwartz, Jameel McClain, Rashad Jennings and Quintin Demps will likely be solid performers for New York next year, but none of these players exuded the “wow” factor.
That changed on Monday with the signing of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year, $39 million contract. Before, the Rodgers-Cromartie signing, other free agents the Giants brought in, with the exception of Geoff Schwartz, simply added to organizational depth or were not three-down players.
Walter Thurmond was targeted to be a slot cornerback, who potentially will not be on the field during running plays. Jameel McClain most likely will not see the field when the Giants are in their dime package. In addition, Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams will undoubtedly be pushing McClain for playing time as well.
In a perfect world, Rashad Jennings will be splitting time with David Wilson at running back, and Quintin Demps will be competing with Stevie Brown and Will Hill for time opposite Antrel Rolle.
The addition of Rodgers-Cromartie balances out the Giants’ secondary by adding a pure coverage cornerback to the mix. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers-Cromartie was given an overall grade of 13.0, which was good for fifth among all NFL cornerbacks, ahead of Richard Sherman, Brandon Boykin, Alterraun Verner and Patrick Peterson.
But hidden within this statistic is the fact that Rodgers-Cromartie was given a coverage grade of 11.0, which was better than even Darrelle Revis.
In terms of run support, the Giants had the cornerback with the most tackles in run support last year. Prince Amukamara had 26 tackles on running plays and was ranked sixth in run support among all NFL corners. And before fans fret about Rodgers-Cromartie’s skill in run support; his grade was similar to Richard Sherman, Vontae Davis and Aqib Talib against the run.
Adding a healthy Stevie Brown to safety, with Walter Thurmond patrolling the slot; the Giants’ secondary, on paper, instantly becomes one of the league’s best. And with Trumaine McBride, Will Hill and Quintin Demps on the sidelines, New York also boasts one of the deepest defensive backfields in the NFL, and most likely allows Big Blue to concentrate on offensive players in May’s NFL draft.