Blake Martinez, James Bradberry continue to garner praise from PFF
The Giants went out during the offseason and made a few big splashes on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. Linebacker Blake Martinez was brought in to anchor the middle of the Giants' defense, while cornerback James Bradberry was signed to lock down the opposing team's top wide receiver. Through the first four games of the season, both of these veterans have been everything the Giants signed up for.
Martinez has registered 43 total tackles (26 solo), tied for the second-most in the NFL and only two shy of Minnesota's Eric Kendricks for the league-lead, along with 2.0 sacks, five tackles for loss and two quarterback hits in the first quarter of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, Martinez' 79.4 overall grade is the fifth-highest among all inside linebackers this year, but it's his performance in the run game that really stands out. The veteran linebacker has earned a 90.8 run defense grade from PFF, the second-best mark in the NFL, thanks in part to his league-leading 23 STOPS, the site's metric for tackles that constitute as a failure for the offense.
Bradberry has been a true shutdown corner in the secondary for the Giants. In four games, the 27-year-old has totaled 15 tackles (13 solo), an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a league-high nine passes defended. His 83.0 overall grade from PFF is the second-highest among all cornerbacks, while his elite 84.3 coverage grade ranks third.
In fact, Bradberry has been playing so well that PFF named him to their First-Quarter NFL All-Pro Team, joining Green Bay's Jaire Alexander as the two corners to earn recognition from the analytics site.
The two veterans have shined in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham's scheme, and both have played big roles in the defense jumping out to a hot start this season.
Notebook: Giants turn page to rival Cowboys
The Giants will experience something both very new and very familiar when they face the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in AT&T Stadium: playing a game with fans in the stands.
The Giants' first four games – two in MetLife Stadium and one each in Chicago and Los Angeles – were played in empty stadiums. But Dallas is one of the few NFL cities in which fans are permitted at games.
Last weekend, a total of 92,696 fans attended a game in eight stadiums. The largest crowd by far - 25,021 - watched the Cowboys lose to the Cleveland Browns. Now the Giants will hear yelling and cheering in a stadium for the first time in the 2020 season. And though it will be in the home an NFC East rival, they look forward to it.
"To be honest with you, it's exciting," coach Joe Judge said today. "I think there's a part of football that obviously we all want fans there. There's a different kind of energy home and away, but I think both energies really add to the atmosphere and add to the environment. I'm looking forward to playing Dallas this week. It's a bonus that there are going to be fans there as well. That's just added incentive to it."
The Giants players are also eager to play in front of a crowd, even one that is hostile.
"I'm excited," safety Logan Ryan said, "even though I do not like the Cowboys personally. Growing up in New Jersey, no matter what team you root for, you root against the Cowboys. I love the energy the fans bring, the good and bad. Nothing is worse (for the home team) than quieting a road stadium. I think it will be fun. I wish we had fans here in New Jersey, they bring a lot of energy to the game. I'm excited for it, but we have to do something to quiet those fans. We have to play well and that's the best thing we have to do. I'm focused on playing first and foremost. I never mind the crowd, the bigger the better. I feel like that's when I perform my best."
The crowd Sunday didn't help the Cowboys, who fell behind the Browns by 27 points in the third quarter before losing, 49-38. Dallas coach Mike McCarthy believes having fans in the stands is not just beneficial for the Cowboys, but for the opposition, as well.
"I'll be honest with you, I think it's good for everybody because it's not loud enough to create a crowd noise advantage for our team," McCarthy said. "I think it really creates a better atmosphere for both teams. Just to compare having fans to having no fans, it's clearly night and day. I think our fans do a great job, but I think the offenses of the opponent still have an ability to communicate."
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Joe Judge Report: Importance of complementary football
In a new episode of the Joe Judge Report, the head coach uses the telestrator to break down film and emphasize the importance of complementary football.
Check out the video below.