At full strength, the Giants’ secondary was facing a tall task Sunday afternoon. And full strength won’t be possible now.
Starting strong safety and punt returner Jabrill Peppers was ruled out on Friday, adding even more difficulty to an already daunting challenge for the Big Blue defense against the high-powered Rams. Jared Goff and company should be bubbling over with excitement, waiting in Los Angeles for a group of defensive backs that won’t have Peppers, could be without his backup, Julian Love (knee/ankle), and lacks a quality No. 2 cornerback opposite James Bradberry.
“Any time you have a player of Jabrill’s caliber that you have to replace, obviously it’s going to take a few guys to replace him, because he did a bunch of different jobs,” special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said. “He meant a lot to our football team and he means a lot to our football team. That’s why he has a ‘C’ on his chest. It’s hard to replace that guy, but you just do the best you can, and the guys are going to step up.”
Peppers didn’t practice all week, so his absence isn’t necessarily a surprise. Love practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and was listed as questionable, a positive development. If he’s unable to go, or is hampered by his injuries, it would put added pressure on newcomer Logan Ryan at safety. The other safeties on the active roster are special teams ace Nate Ebner — he had two defensive snaps in the past three years with the Patriots — and Adrian Colbert, who was picked up a few weeks and has yet to appear in a game for the Giants. For added depth, the Giants signed Sean Chandler off the practice squad on Friday, but he has never started a regular-season game. The move could give them flexibility to use Ryan, a converted cornerback, in the slot.
“The good thing about those guys is they both can tackle,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said, referring to Ryan and Love. “There’s a willingness to be involved in the run game. They can still be interchangeable to a certain degree. The great benefit of it is the man-to-man coverage skills. Now you’re working with something right there. You’re dealing with the Rams, where these guys are all over the place.”
Even with a healthy Love, the unit was decimated by 49ers backup quarterback Nick Mullens after Peppers sprained his right ankle in the first quarter. Without George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, Mullens still torched the Big Blue secondary to the tune of 343 yards through the air on 25-of-36 passing and a touchdown. Goff is a far more experienced quarterback with better weapons — the Rams are third per game in the NFL in total yards (449.7) and seventh in passing yards (279.3) — and will be playing in his new picturesque home, SoFi Stadium.
The Rams (2-1), coming off a tough three-point loss at the undefeated Bills, feature an explosive tandem in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The duo has combined for 31 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. They’ve given better secondaries than the Giants’ problems.
“Individually, they’re very good. Collectively as a unit, the way they function, the multiples they create, the way [Rams coach] Sean [McVay] calls it on the sideline and the way Goff is really distributing the ball right now, accompany that with their run game, their play-actions and their drop-backs, they do a lot of things that give you issues,” head coach Joe Judge said. “Individually, they’re enough of an issue. Collectively, you have multiple guys on the field [capable of making plays], that’s why they’re so successful.”
In ordinary circumstances, this would’ve been a very tough matchup for the Giants. It’s going to be even harder now without Peppers.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article