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Mailbag: Defensive schemes, rookie EDGE rushers


Jim in New York: We know of nickel and dime packages, but have the Giants ever used seven defensive backs on a play? If not, with the additions to the secondary, might we see this coming?

John Schmeelk: We'll reference PFF's data because it goes right to the heart of a question like this. The Giants used seven or more defensive backs on a suprising 59 plays last year, which was the third-most in the league. The Patriots led the league with 184. The Steelers played the second-most with 84 and the Dolphins were fourth with 14. No one else had more than 10 such plays. Note that three of the top four teams on this list have Patriots lineage in their coaching staff. Given the Giants additions in the secondary, you could see more of this alignment.

It's even more fun to explore how they go about using this formation. Would they use a three-man front, keep Blake Martinez in the game as the lone linebacker, and then use seven defensive backs? Or would they go with a four-man front, use Jabrill Peppers in the linebacker position, and then place six more defensive backs behind him? There are good arguments for both. The other question is how would those seven defensive backs be split between the cornerbacks and safeties?

Ellen in Oregon: Edge rusher Elerson Smith scored off the charts with his Relative Athletic Score … practically a 10. It would seem with he and Azeez Ojulari could make the defensive front very special, agree?

John Schmeelk: Smith as a lot of raw talent. He showed great athleticism in the FCS at Northern Iowa. He also hasn't played in a competitive football game since 2019, spare the Senior Bowl. The jump in competition to the NFL is HUGE, so be ready to exercise some patience for him to make his adjustment to the NFL.

Brian in New Jersey: Given the Giants want to run the ball, how does offensive coordinator Jason Garrett get enough touches for the other weapons outside of Saquon Barkley?

John Schmeelk: The offense is going to be a team effort, depending on the game flow and matchup. So the aggregation of each player's statistics might not be the best way to judge a player's effectiveness this year as the ball is spread around. Rather, look at a player's efficiency within the overall scheme – this may help dictate who gets the ball in certain situations.

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