Julian Love chosen as Giants' 2020 breakout player
Giants second-year defensive back Julian Love did not see the field much on defense in the first 10 games of the 2019 season. Through the Giants' bye in Week 11, Love received just a handful of snaps on defense while most of his playing time came on special teams.
Things changed in Week 12, though. Jabrill Peppers injured his back in the first half of the game against the Chicago Bears, which led to Love taking over at safety. The young DB out of Notre Dame would go on to register his first career interception and pass breakup while playing in front of friends and family in Chicago, and never looked back.
Love played at least 97 percent of the Giants' defensive snaps in each of the team's final five games of the year and looked more than comfortable filling in for Peppers. The 2019 fourth round pick finished his rookie campaign with 35 tackles (28 solo), five tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, three passes defended and one forced fumble.
Pro Football Focus praised Love for his performance following the conclusion of the season, ranking the defensive back No. 13 on its Top 50 NFL rookie rankings. Love earned the ninth-best PFF grade in the box over the final six weeks of the season and allowed just 19 yards on his 80 coverage snaps at that alignment.
With the 2020 regular season about to kick off, PFF has once again complimented Love for his strong play both last season and in training camp. The analytics site chose Love as the Giants' breakout player, citing his versatility and ability in coverage.
As PFF's Anthony Treash writes, "Love is as versatile a secondary player as they come. He didn't see substantial action as a rookie in 2019 until Week 12 but played well while logging over 75 snaps in the box, in the slot and at deep safety. Love produced a 70.5 PFF grade in that span, ranking 26th among qualifying safeties. This year, Love is likely to stick at safety to start for the Giants, but don't rule him out at cornerback given the state of the unit. That's where Love spent his three-year career at Notre Dame and was one of the best at the position.
"In his last season at Notre Dame, Love was the fourth-highest graded cornerback in the FBS on the outside, tying for eighth in forced incompletions (17). His size is a minor concern and he may not have blazing speed, but Love is still an incredibly smooth athlete with the ball skills to thrive on the outside if given the opportunity. Whether he plays there, nickel or deep, Love should have a decent Year 2 ahead with the experience he now has at every position."
Joe Judge, Daniel Jones set to make shared debut
NFL head coaches and their quarterbacks are always joined at the hip, because they depend so much on each other for the team's success.
Throughout their long history, the Giants have benefitted from many such collaborations, among them Jim Lee Howell and Charlie Conerly, Allie Sherman and Y.A. Tittle, Bill Parcells and Phil Simms and, most recently, Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, who were together for 195 regular-season and postseason games, including two Super Bowl victories.
On Monday night, the youngest and newest of those tandems will make their shared debut when first-year coach Joe Judge, 38, and second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, 23, lead the Giants into their 2020 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in MetLife Stadium.
When he speaks with reporters, Judge prefers not to dwell on individuals and prefaced the following with, "I try to have special relationships with all the players." But it's clear the bond he shares with Jones will be particularly significant.
"The quarterback and the head coach have to be able to talk," Judge said today. "Him being one of our captains obviously puts him in a position that we're going to have a lot of conversations. Not all involving football but involving all aspects of the team. That should open the platform to him and myself to talk a lot throughout the weeks. You have to have a good relationship with all your players that are signal callers especially. You have to trust them, and they have to trust you.
"When it comes to the signal callers, and I'm talking about the quarterback, the center, the mike linebacker, whoever the safety is on the back end that's making the calls, the personal protector on the punt team, these signal callers are critical to the units they are on. Ultimately, they are the quarterback when they are on the field. Whether it's the quarterback or defensive player or special teams player, they have to see the game the way you are presenting it to them. You have to see the game the way their lens is on the field. That only happens through a lot of conversation."
Through the Years: Giants vs. Steelers
View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, two of the league's most storied franchises.
View photos of the history between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.