Under new Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, this Giants defense will look a little different this year. They will be aggressive in pressuring the quarterback with little to no help in the secondary. The scheme is reliant on the making the quarterback get rid of the ball quickly. This will be in large part the responsibility of this unit’s greatest strength, the defensive line. The line has proven studs in Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence as well as up-and-coming players like Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux. The effectiveness of this scheme starts with them, but the lack of talent at linebacker could be a major problem for the New York Giants.
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The New York Giants Need Help at the Linebacker Position
The Linebacker Group Has Holes and Lacks Depth
In a perfect world, the Giants front four would be complemented by a group of linebackers that make decisions quickly and play fast. They would swarm the ball and play physical football. Inside linebacker Blake Martinez does play this way despite being undersized. He is an absolute tackling machine and is far and away the best linebacker on the New York Giants. The Giants missed him last season after he suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 and missed the remainder of the year.
The injury gave young linebacker Tae Crowder the opportunity for big minutes for the rest of the year. Crowder had a couple of big moments including a fumble return touchdown to win the game against Washington. But overall, he was not very good. He was an above average pass rusher but was a liability against the run as well as in coverage. The bad news for the Giants is that they have another starting linebacker in Carter Coughlin that is even worse. And after losing promising rookie linebacker Darren Beavers to an ACL tear this week, there is no depth at the position. It may be time to look elsewhere for help.
Alternate Options Around the League
Reggie Ragland is a free agent linebacker that was with the Giants last year. He knows a lot of the players and the area, so it would be an easier transition for him late in camp than it would be for most guys. The 28 year old is an affordable option with a 2021 cap hit of under a million dollars. He’d likely get the same or less in 2022.
Roquan Smith is an unlikely addition, but one that would change the look of this team immediately. The 25-year-old has requested a trade from the Chicago Bears with one year left on his rookie contract. He was the 8th overall pick in 2018 and has been incredible since joining the league. If the Bears know that he won’t sign with them after this year, then the smart thing to do would be to move him now and get something in return. The Giants would be smart to make an offer as the Bears have lost all their leverage when he requested a trade. New York would be adding a star player for a low trade value at a position of huge need. On top of that, the Giants could make their pitch to him to stay in NY long term.
Jaylon Smith is a big physical free agent linebacker that played the last three weeks with the Giants last year. The long time Cowboy would be another cheap option for the G-Men who has some experience with the team and a lot of the players. In his time with the team last year, he played very well, especially against the pass.
Within the coming weeks and days, teams will cut their rosters down to 53 players. Lots of players and Linebackers will become available to claim. The New York Giants need help at Linebacker. The good news is they will have some options.