Blake Martinez, James Bradberry make PFF's list of most valuable additions
The Giants' defense stepped up in 2020.
The unit ranked 9th in the league in points allowed (22.3) and 12th in yards allowed (349.3) per game. Over the final eight outings of the season, the defense allowed more than 20 points in just two games while keeping opponents to an average of 19.8 points per contest. In particular, Big Blue excelled once opposing teams got into the red zone. The defense allowed a touchdown on 50.8 percent of trips inside the 20-yard line, the second-best mark in the NFL.
Patrick Graham's defense also proved to be a well-rounded unit. The 22 passing touchdowns allowed finished tied for the fifth-fewest in the league, while the team's 111.4 rushing yards allowed per game and 14 rushing touchdowns surrendered both ranked 10th. The Giants' rush defense also ranked eighth in the NFL with its 4.1 yards allowed per carry.
Two significant factors behind the success of the defense were the performances of two newcomers: linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback James Bradberry. Both veterans entered the league in 2016 and spent the first four years of their respective careers with other teams before joining the Giants during the 2020 offseason.
In their first year with the Giants, Bradberry earned his first selection to the Pro Bowl, while Martinez continued to live up to his reputation as a tackling machine by racking up 151 total tackles, the third-most in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus' James Fragoza released a list of the most valuable 2020 additions at each position, and to no one's surprise, both Martinez and Bradberry made it as the top linebacker and cornerback, respectively.
As Fragoza writes in the article, "Martinez was a tackling machine with the Packers and did not miss a step once he joined the G Men. He posted a poor 57.9 grade in 2019 but bounced back with a 75.9 grade this year, seventh among linebackers. Though many second-level defenders were eaten alive by the onslaught of passing games, Martinez held his own by allowing zero touchdowns across 573 coverage snaps and 63 targets...
"Joining teammate Martinez on the list, Bradberry put together a career year in his first season in New York, grading at 79.8 overall, good for seventh-best in the league during the regular season. He allowed the ninth-lowest passer rating into his coverage (70.1) and played over 1,000 snaps, making him one of just eight cornerbacks to do so. While there were other solid free agent and rookie performances at cornerback, none were as dominant as Bradberry's."
Eli Manning congratulates Philip Rivers on retirement
The 2004 NFL Draft is likely to go down as one of the greatest quarterback draft classes of all time.
Of course, Eli Manning was the No. 1 overall pick that year. He would go on to win two Super Bowl MVPs during his 16 seasons with the Giants and finished his career inside the NFL's top 10 all-time leaders in passing yards and touchdowns.
Joining Manning inside the top 10 of both statistics are two other quarterbacks from the 2004 draft: Ben Roethlisberger, who has spent the last 17 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers while helping them win two Super Bowls, and Philip Rivers.
Rivers, who was originally drafted by the Giants before being included in the trade that brought Manning to East Rutherford, was with the Chargers for the first 16 years of his career before joining the Indianapolis Colts for the 2020 season. He currently ranks fifth all-time in both passing yards and touchdowns, and has been selected to eight Pro Bowls throughout his career.
On Wednesday, Rivers announced his retirement from the NFL. Manning took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow QB from the 2004 draft class on a phenomenal career.
Inside the Film Room: What excites David Diehl about OT Andrew Thomas
Two-time Super Bowl champion David Diehl breaks down the rookie season of left tackle Andrew Thomas on this episode of Inside the Film Room.