Giants Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham Ready to Feast on Defensive Backs Talent Buffet

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can't wait to start mixing and matching the talent he's been given in the Giants defensive backfield.
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New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham might be watching his diet these days. Still, when it comes t the defensive backfield smörgåsbord the front office has assembled for him, Graham is looking forward to getting his fill.

This off-season, the centerpiece of that group is cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, once a first-round pick of the Titans who, after an injury-shortened 2020 season, saw his four-year stint that included surrendering 15 touchdowns to only two interceptions and 34 pass breakups (half of which came in his rookie season) end.

The Giants wasted little time in scooping Jackson up, signing him to a three-year, $39 million contract, a deal that an unnamed executive described as “inexcusable” to The Athletic’s Mike Sando in early April.

But the Giants, in sparing no expense in upgrading their team to make a serious run at the playoffs this coming season, think Jackson is going to be worth it.

“You can't have enough good DBs because as you could see throughout the league, just take a look at the teams that would be the Super Bowl,” Graham said.

“Tampa Bay--they were five or six deep at wide receiver plus they had tight ends and they are going to have another tight end coming back. So you have to be able to cover these guys.”

Graham, who praised Jackson’s skillset, pointed to the Giants regular-season opener against Denver, a team with several very good skill position players who can inflict damage on a defensive opponent.

Then there are other teams the Giants will face this year with multiple weapons at receiver and tight end, including the Bucs, Cowboys, and Chiefs, to name a few.

The Giants pass defense ranked 16th last year, averaging 237.9 yards allowed per game, and averaged 13.4 first-downs bypassing per game, 24th in the league. A large part of those struggles had to do with instability at their second cornerback spot opposite of James Bradberry, where the Giants tried at least four different players on the perimeter cornerback, with very little success.

Although Graham was creative enough in devising schemes that kept the Giants defense afloat, he wasn’t truly able to deploy man coverage as much as he had the year prior in Miami.

With the Giants having to rely more on zone coverage, their third-down defense suffered. The Giants allowed a third-down conversion percentage of 44.61%, 25th in the league.

“I think in our system, we want to be able to play man,” Graham said. “When it comes to third down, red area, two-minute; in this league, you're going to have to play some version of man at some point.”

Jackson is only one part of the potential solution to help what’s ailed the Giants defense. The Giants also added Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams in the draft and now appear to have an abundance of talent among their corners and safeties—talent that is versatile enough to provide Graham with countless options.

“It's always good to have that problem, so we are going to try to do what's best for that game, that game plan,” Graham said. “You need to play man-to-man coverage in this league, period, point-blank. Obviously, six wins last year, we didn't do enough on defense. We are looking at all options, whether it's the blitz more, blitz less, play less zone, play more man--we need a lot of options. Six wins are not going to cut it.

“You can't go wrong with having a bunch of DBs,” Graham reiterated. “We are happy to have Adoree', his skill set—you could watch the tape and figure that out. But there's other guys, too, that we are excited about—Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson—they are all in the mix. I'm excited about our group.”

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