Are the New York Giants a Bottom-5 Defense Heading Into 2023?

The New York Giants made a surprise run to the Divisional Round last year. Was that a fluke? How their defense performs holds the answer in 2023.

The New York Giants made a surprise run to the postseason in 2022. While the offense certainly improved from the year prior, they did this largely on the back of their defense. Still, Pro Football Network’s Arif Hasan projects them to be the fourth-worst defense in all of football in 2023. Can the Giants survive that type of dramatic setback?

The New York Giants Look To Be a Bottom-5 Defense in 2023

According to Hasan, the Giants enter 2023 ranking ahead of just three other teams. This is perhaps due to the fact that their unit, despite being the strength of their team in 2022, didn’t rank in the top half of the league in many top categories.

They also had some weaknesses at key positions on the defense. Cornerback and linebacker were highlighted as especially problematic. Cornerback is a difficult weakness to have as it is considered by many to be one of the four core positions to have elite talent at.

In 2022, the Giants tied for the lowest number of interceptions with six. Interceptions should never be used as a sustainable measure for projection, but even still, to only have six on the season suggests the secondary needed a ball hawk.

Linebacker doesn’t get as much love for its value, but its weakness showed up in 2022. The Giants were sixth-worst against the run in terms of rushing yards allowed, conceding over 2,450 yards. The hope for the Giants is that some of the upgrades they’ve made will alleviate that.

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Here is what Arif Hasan had to say regarding their 2023 outlook:

“The Giants had a glaring hole at cornerback that they fixed with Deonte Banks, but they still have work to do at that position and safety. Without a strong projected unit at linebacker and only a modest pass rush despite the excellent names there, there’s reason to believe the Giants will stay about the same defensively.”

There Is Reason for Hope for the New York Giants

Despite the Giants’ 2023 projection, they actually didn’t finish that low in several key areas, which should give an opportunity for continued growth in another year of Wink Martindale’s system.

For example, in points allowed, the Giants nearly finished in the top half of the league, coming in at 17th. Points allowed is a valuable indicator of success because, ultimately, giving up fewer points than your offense scores is how you win football games.

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Against the pass, despite the weakness at cornerback, the Giants ranked 15th in yards allowed and tied for fourth in touchdowns forfeited. While they have a weakness at cornerback, their first-round pick, Deonte Banks, should be helpful in strengthening the unit.

New York also had quite the pass rush in 2022. They finished in the top half of the league in sacks, coming in at 13th. More important than sacks, though, are pressures, and they finished top 10 in that metric (eighth).

They were even better at knocking down the quarterback. The Giants finished sixth in quarterback knockdowns. 11.6% of their pass rushes resulted in the quarterback being hit, and that was also good enough for sixth place.

Also, while the linebacking corps was an area of weakness, especially in giving up rushing yards, they led the league in having the fewest missed tackles, tied with the Washington Commanders. The signing of Bobby Okereke should also help bolster that effort.

All in all, the Giants should not be considered an elite defense. However, while it’s possible that their issues from 2022 carry over to 2023, there is a pathway for them to escape a bottom-five ranking.

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