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Cover 3: Returning Giants to watch in 2020

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There has been a lot of talk about what the new free agents and draft picks will bring to the Giants, but what about the returning players? This week, three Giants.com writers discuss which players they look forward to seeing with the new coaches and the systems they are installing.

John Schmeelk: Do I have to pick between Julian Love and Jabrill Peppers? I refuse your binary choice model of Cover 3. Call me a squish if you want, I don't care. Am I arguing with a question typed into an email? Apparently. Welcome to Week 10 of quarantine with a small child.

Julian Love is the easy answer here because of his natural position versatility. He played inside and outside cornerback at Notre Dame, and both deep and box safety for the Giants last year. He was a better zone cornerback in college, which makes me think he would be more of a safety in what many think is going to be a man-to-man heavy Patrick Graham scheme. It's also possible this coaching staff sees something in Love's traits that make him suited to either inside or outside cornerback in a man scheme. I can't wait to find out.

Peppers is the less obvious option here because I think he is a strong safety in base defense. He will play closer to the line of scrimmage with rookie Xavier McKinney playing deep. So, what's so interesting about that? I wonder if the coaching staff is going to investigate a big dime or small nickel package at some point. In passing situations, could Peppers move down to play a linebacker-type position next to Blake Martinez and insert Julian Love as a deep safety next to McKinney? All three safeties and Martinez would be on the field with three cornerbacks and four down pass rushers. This is an intriguing personnel grouping that I think adds a lot of possibilities and versatility.

I am also curious to see if Peppers will be given more of an opportunity to cover tight ends man to man. He was not asked to do it a lot last year but flashed the ability to do it when given the chance. Peppers has more than enough speed, but can he do the other things to cover tight ends consistently in the middle of the field? Or will that fall to McKinney with either Peppers or Love shifting to the deep safety role? Those three versatile players may be vital cogs in what could be an ever-changing defense for the Giants in 2020.

View photos of every roster addition made by the Giants this offseason.

Dan Salomone: I was the “boring answer guy” in Fact or Fiction on Friday, so I guess I'll be the "obvious answer guy" in Cover 3. It's quarterback Daniel Jones. Joe Judge had a front-row seat to the most decorated head coach-quarterback tandem in NFL history with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Judge took meticulous notes about what made that relationship tick. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett brings a decade of head coaching experience to the table, not to mention his years as a quarterback and assistant coach in the NFL.

"I think schematically, the easiest way to describe it to the outside world right now is it's going to be similarly based off what Jason's done in Dallas over the last 10 or so years," Judge said of what to expect with the Giants' new offense. "There are going to be some similarities carried over from that, but it has to cater to our players we have on our roster currently. Right now, we're installing all of the base concepts and the shell of the offense. I think really you'll see throughout training camp as it takes form with the character of our team and as different players emerge. Really along with that, it's going to take shape throughout the season as well. We're going to be a team that focuses a lot on game plans and whatever we have to do game by game. That might be running the ball every play or throwing the ball every play based on the opponent. But we're going to make sure we're not too rigid in what we're doing that we can't adapt by game plan."

As the top-rated offense last season, it marked the eighth time the Cowboys finished in the top 10 with Garrett as either coordinator or head coach. They were second in 2007 and 2009, 10th in 2010 and 2013, sixth in 2012, seventh in 2014 and fifth in 2016. Under his tutelage, quarterbacks Tony Romo and Dak Prescott, running backs DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott, wide receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper, tight end Jason Witten and numerous offensive linemen became Pro Bowl players.

So, yeah, I'm interested to see Jones in this system.

Lance Medow: Last season, Evan Engram was on pace for a career year. Through the first five games, he accumulated 33 receptions, 373 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, the injury bug struck, and Engram only appeared in three more games before being placed on injured reserve in mid-December. When you look at the Cowboys offense during Jason Garrett's tenure, the tight end position played a prominent role in the passing game. Just look at Jason Witten's production. The Giants have been on the wrong end of those numbers over the last decade or so. 

While Witten's stats certainly jump off the page, the same can be said for Blake Jarwin, who is more comparable to Engram in terms of build and athleticism. With Witten taking a backseat to Jarwin in each of the last two seasons, the latter emerged as a notable playmaker with his targets, receptions and receiving yards increasing from 2018 to 2019. Jarwin's usage and emergence is an encouraging sign for Engram.

Dallas has had a track record of developing and utilizing tight ends. You can even go back to Garrett's playing days with the Cowboys when Jay Novacek was a key weapon during their three Super Bowl victories in the 1990s. This is yet another reason why I'm very interested to see how Garrett shapes the offense around Engram's strengths and how heavily he's involved in the passing game.

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