Over the past two seasons, there is a constant bad theme that trails back to New York Giants‘ general manager, Dave Gettleman. Julian Love, unfortunately, is one hit by that curse this season. The theme is the previous draft class’s regression.
Love has not played well to start the season. It seems because of Love’s struggles, that the Giants’ coaching staff now favors Logan Ryan as the starting free safety. Is it time for the Giants to push the panic button on Love yet?
Julian Love Is Regressing for the New York Giants in 2020
Gettleman selected Love 110th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft as a cornerback out of Notre Dame. In his first season, defensive coordinator James Bettcher switched Love from a slot cornerback to free safety. This experiment did not work previously, as Curtis Riley endured the experiment a year earlier. Riley took bad angles to the ball and nearly led the NFL in missed tackles in 2019.
Julian Love held special teams duties up until Week 12 of the 2019 season against the Chicago Bears. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers suffered a transverse process fracture that game, giving Love extended opportunities. He played 57 percent of the defensive snaps that week and even hauled in an interception against Mitchell Trubisky.
The number of snaps Love played increased in the coming weeks. He endured his fair share of struggles but played much better compared to rookies Deandre Baker, Corey Ballentine, and 2018 Supplemental Pick Sam Beal.
Love played in 15 games in 2019, in which he started five. Love finished out the season with the following stats:
- One Interception
- Three Passes Defended
- 37 Total Tackles
- 1 Quarterback Hit
- Allowed 19 completions on 29 targets
- 65.5 percent of passes completed against Love
- 190 Yards Allowed
- 81.1 Passer Rating Against
- 10 Yards Allowed Per Completion
- 6.6 Yards Allowed Per Target
Many questions came into training camp based on a couple of events. The COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that Gettleman drafted Alabama safety Xavier McKinney in the second round of April’s draft. There were questions about whether Love would stay as a safety or move down to slot cornerback, a position of need. That question was answered in late August when McKinney broke his foot. Love won the free safety position and the Giants placed McKinney on injured reserve after roster cuts.
However, before the team placed McKinney on injured reserve, the Giants signed free agent cornerback Logan Ryan. Many envisioned Ryan to play the slot, however, rookie Darnay Holmes and other defensive backs rotated in that role in Week 1.
Many did not expect Love to struggle in 2020, but to thrive in Patrick Graham‘s defense. However, Love struggled in the first couple of games of the season. As the coaching staff saw this happen, Logan Ryan saw an uptick in snaps at free safety.
Love saw 30 percent (17 snaps) of snaps at free safety in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams. One of his most notable mistakes was blowing coverage against Cooper Kupp, causing the wide receiver to run for a 55-yard score.
A massive change happened in Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys. Even though Joe Judge did not thoroughly announce the move, it looked like the Giants benched Love. Love played zero defensive snaps during Week 5’s game. Ryan, Adrian Colbert, and Jabrill Peppers mixed in at the safety positions.
It is a wait-and-see situation for the Week 6 matchup against the Washington Football Team, whether Love remains benched or whether he will play minimal snaps.
Should the New York Giants Be Worried?
The New York Giants should be concerned but not worried yet. Many of the rookies from the 2018 draft class struggled mightily in their second year in the league. Will Hernandez made some strides in the run-blocking game the last two weeks, as he is third in run-block win rate (behind Senio Kelemete and Quenton Nelson) among NFL guards. Lorenzo Carter led the team in pressures before suffering a ruptured Achilles, ending his season.
Not saying Julian Love gets a free pass for his struggles, but with a teaching coaching staff, both need to work with each other to get the most out of the second-year defensive back out of Notre Dame.
It is confirmed Love is struggling, but the Giants should not push the big red button yet.