Position Breakdown: The Secondary

I am one of the belief that the Giants have a player that is a lock down corner. Which is one of the hardest positions to find in pro footb all, and that lock down corner is Corey Webster.

Corey Webster is perhaps one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league and one of it’s best.  That is suprising to me becuase there was a time early on I thought Webster had no chance.  I thought Webster looked clueless early in his career, and could not play zone coverage to save his life. Often leaving men running down the field wide open, even for most of 2007 Webster looked like he might not be the player the Giants thought he could eventually be, but something happened and he’s turned into a fine young stud corernback; though young, he has suddenly become the veteran member of a very young secondary.  A promising young secondary.

 

Something to note about the secondary as a whole is that the Giants have one of the tallest secondaries in the league (unofficially), I just know that the most corerbacks fall somewhere between 5’9 and 6′ tall.

 

The Giants, top three cornerbacks (Webster, Ross, Thomas) are all 6′ are taller. They are all exceptional athletes as well, hopefully that will translate into even more production this year.

 

The Giants ranked 8th against the pass last year, which is great anytime your defense is in the top 10.  The question about the Giants secondary is this, though: is the Giants secondary made up of players that are good or does the success come from quarterbacks having to throw the ball earlier than they would like too?  I think the Giants have a lot of talent in the secondary: I mean, the Giants top three corernbacks are all players that were selcted in the first two rounds. Players that are selected in the first two rounds to not lack athleticism and potential.

I would like to see the Giants secondary make more plays on the ball this year, and improve their tackling. I’ll get into, at the end of the post, why it is I think the Giants secondary does not get more credit (spolier: the linebackers can’t cover running backs or tight ends which kills the pass defense numbers)

Let’s take a look at the indiviaul players the Giants have in the secondary. 

 

Corey Webster-

I’ve already discussed Webster in some length, but lets look a bit further.  According to football outsiders last year Webster was statistically one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Teams throwing to their number one wide reciever had a DVOA of -16% which was third best in the league.  The New York Giants were third best in the league in covering number one wide recievers.  That’s not something you will see everywhere, but fear not Corey Webster is that good.

Corey Webster also broke up 32.1 percent of the passes thrown at him. BEST in the league.    Webster also gave up an average of 5.4 yards per play (7th best in the league)

Corey Webster played last year like a top ten cornerback in the league, let’s hope that is the case this following season. The only knocks are I’d like to see Webster pick off a few more of those passes he broke up and improve against the rush where he was average.

 

Aaron Ross

Aaron Ross, on the other hand, struggled last season after a very good 2007.  Ross has battled injuries in his first two seasons with the Giants, but he has great potential. Ross is a very fast player, who is also a taller member of the secondary listed at 6′ even. 

Last year vs number two wide recievers opposing offenses had a 6.4% DVOA, which was good for 21st in the league (or better than average).  Ross has the talent and potential to be a great number two, solid number one Cornerback, but he needs to be more consistent avoid injuries more often and just play better all around.  Ross is still young though, this only being his third season so there is no need to panic yet, I expect a better year from Ross this year, especially considering that I think there will be even more pressure applied on opposing quarterbacks this year.

Aaron Ross gave up an average of 8.9 yards per play (77th best int he league for qualifying cornerbacks-below average). He played pretty well against the rush last year, at least.

 

Terrell Thomas

Before I talk about Thomas, I’ll mention that opposing wide recievers that were not the “starting” Wide reicevers had a DVOA of -15.8% against the Giants (10th best in the league).  This is a good indication that the Giants nickel and dime cornerbacks are playing well.

Thomas is also listed at 6′ tall and is very athletic. He played at USC which shows you how productive he has been in every stage of his football career.  Thomas is a player I like a lot. I think he has the promsie to be a number 1 Cornerback in this league, and clearly the best nickel cornerback in the league if he continues his progression. 

Thomas gave up an average of 7.1 yards per play in the air (not even snaps to qualify, but over a full season that would be in the top 30 (64 starting corerbacks in the league and about 125 that play regularly so much better than average).

Thomas will take over if Ross struggles and if Ross plays well, Thomas may be the best nickel cornerback in the league.

 

Kevin Dockery

To me, it makes no sense that the Giants drafted two more corenrbacks becuase of this man here. Dockery is the only short Giants Cornerback (5’8”) but he was super productive last season for the Giants. Originally an undrafted rookie free agent there are a lot of teams that missed out on a good nickel cornerback.  Despite how producive Dockery is, he’s not in the future plans with Ross, Thomas, and Webster. Dockery will give way most of his playing time as the third cornerback to Thomas, but will be involved when there are 4 cb’s on the field. Last year Dockery gave up an adjusted 6.3 yards per pass (24th best in the league-second best on the Giants). Now Dockery was lined up against number 3 and 4 WR and not number two like Ross was, but he still played well. He also stopped 63 percent of runs at him, best for Giants cornerbacks.

 

Dockery you da man.

 

Stoney Woodson/DeAndre Wright

Are the 7th and sixth round draft picks for the New York Giants this year. They are almost like carbon copies of each other in terms of height and athleticism. 

DeAndre Wright has the real potential here, I feel. Two years ago Wright played excellently and was on his way to being a top three round pick, but last year he messed up his shoulders and fell down draft charts. Wright is very athletic and has good size. We’ll see what he can do with the Giants neither player will play much this season.

 

Safeties

I think the Safety play will improve a lot this year. Last year, I felt like the Giants had two starting strong safeties, but had to play on at FS (Johnson).

This year Philips will man the FS position pushing Johnson to his more natural SS position.

Kenny Philips

Philips is perhaps THE breakout candidate for the New York Giants. A 1st round pick that so many teams should not have passed on. Philps looked liek a star in limited time last year and I think is his for a big year. 

Michael Johnson

To me, Johnson has to step up his game if he wants to be starting next year. Last year I would say he was an average Safety and his skill set and (relative lack of ) athleticm to me, makes his potentail to be a little better than average based purely on those attributes. Johnson will have to work very hard to never be out of position, to get exceptional reads on the play and to knock some heads off when he gets the chance, because I think draft time 2010 The Giants are going Safety with their first pick because as of now next year’s draft class looks incredibly deep at the safety position which means when the Giants are picking 32nd (I hope) safety might be the best player available that fits a need.

Johnson plays VERY GOOD against the run.  Below average against the pass. He had a stop rate of 68 percent against the run last year (3rd best in the league).

So if the Giants can keep Johnson out of situations he shouldn’t be in, he could excel, but I think he has the most to prove in the secondary this year.

 

C.C. Brown

Yikes! Let’s just leave it at that.

 

Sha’reef Rashard

Rashard is an undrafted rookie free agent who has played very well in the off-season so far and I think has the best chance of all the undrafted rookie free agents of making the team. The Giants need a fourth safety badly for depth purposes and I think Rashard could be the answer.

If not, I wouldn’t be suprised to see the Giants make a move for depth at the safety position a sixth round pick to some team for their third  safety or Danny Ware or one of the extraneous wide receivers or  something for a Safety. Time will tell.

 

Now here’s the reason people think the Giants have a worse secondary then they actually do, becuase as I have tried to show you here the players taken indivdually with the exception of Aaron Ross and Johnson (but now he won’t have much pass coveage duties) played very well. 

The New York Giants had a DVOA of 30.3% (positive 1 is bad) last year vs opposing running backs, which was good for 31st in the league!!

Yikes! The Giants were, perhaps, the worst team in the league last year against opposing running backs and it’s not just against Brian Westbrook.

This is an area that needs to improve this season.

The other thing the Giants were not great at is defending the  tight end where the Giants were 21st best in the league last year, However, the Giants were 31st three years ago, 29th two years ago, and 21st last year, which means that this is an area they are working to improve on and doing well. But this is where the Giants must get better if they want to have the best secondary in the league.

 

 

 

That wraps it up folks, I hope you appreciate the indepth approach.  I think the Giants secondary players are great, Phillips will be a S-T-U-D. Johnson should improve playing the strong safety postion where stopping the run is more important than pass coverage (and if he doesn’t he’s bench material next year). Ross needs to bounce back, Webster must maintain and the secondary as  a whole needs to make more plays on the ball and improve their tackling (I’m looking atyou Webster and Ross). 

 

Fear not, though, Giants fans. The secondary is much better than pundits make it out to be, in fact it’s one of the best secondaries in the league to a man, especially if Ross bounces back the Giants by the end of the year will have a secondary that people talk about as being top five, I believe. And Corey Webster better go to the pro bowl this year.


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4 Responses to “Position Breakdown: The Secondary”

  1. shawn says:

    Nice job. I enjoyed it. I very strongly agree about thomas and phillips. Everyone knows about phillips, but everyone is sleeping on thomas. That guy is really really good. looked like a veteran to me last season. He could easily, in my mind, start alongside webster. It was really spagnuolo who saved webster from the slow death of tim lewis’ defensive system. OUr style of defense leaves us vulnerable to the tight end over the middle. It calls for one on one coverage with a linebacker and pierce usually finds himself chasing people without much help. With that being said, I would rather keep the style of defense we have without changing too much, which is what coughlin is looking to do. The wrinkles the new guy is talking about may very well be to deal with our weakness in the middle of the field. addition of canty (who is a beast) umenyora coming back, tuck… we are looking good.

  2. bt says:

    I loved the past two position breakdowns. thank you very much

  3. Shawn-

    I agree with you on the Webster thing. Webster looked lost in a man type of coverage system and I do not believe Webster would be nearly as effective in a cover 2 type system. I can live with the TE but the RB thing is pretty bad, I think.

    BT.

    Thank you very much. I try to tag all of my entries “Bartolis” so you can click on that tag and see some of my other work.

    I also write frequently here sportingnews.com/blog/bartolis

    And it’s usually not the same things I write here, but sometimes it is.

  4. […] agree with Jesse Bartolis in his assertion that Corey Webster will have a big year. Webster came into his own during the Super Bowl run, and […]

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