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    Corey Ballentine’s release a reminder of Dave Gettleman’s personnel failures

    Corey Ballentine’s release on Tuesday was only the latest reminder of how badly GM Dave Gettleman botched the corner position and the entire secondary.

    Between summer 2018 and spring 2019, Gettleman drafted DeAndre Baker (first round trade up), Sam Beal (third round supplemental), Ballentine (sixth round) and Julian Love (fourth round).


    The GM signed undrafted free agent corner Grant Haley and veteran free agent B.W. Webb. He traded for strong safety Jabrill Peppers. And his starters for two years at free safety were Curtis Riley and Antoine Bethea.

    Love and Peppers are the only two of those nine players still on the active roster. Love is a reserve safety, and Peppers is a boom-or-bust linebacker/strong safety mix.


    Coupled with Gettleman’s failure to add a single high-end pass rusher in three years, it’s incomprehensible that this defense is even competitive.

    There are a couple reasons for that.

    Since Joe Judge arrived, the Giants have added respectable, high-floor NFL players to every level of their defense, namely corner James Bradberry, linebacker Blake Martinez (league-leading 92 tackles), safety Logan Ryan and edge Kyler Fackrell.

    Leonard Williams, Gettleman’s 2019 midseason acquisition, is also playing well on the D-line.

    Judge and defensive coordinator Pat Graham are doing a masterful job disguising coverages, as well. They are playing a lot of zone to conceal weaknesses, even though their base scheme is man-to-man.

    They are blitzing or rushing defensive backs often, including fourth-round rookie Darnay Holmes, to protect their own players and confuse quarterbacks. And on offense, at least last Sunday at Washington, the offense helped early on by running the ball effectively.

    The Giants won the time of possession battle emphatically, 36:27 to 23:33, and ran 77 offensive plays to Washington’s 54. That is another way they can help this defense: by keeping it off the field. This is what is required to manage a game when your offense can’t score a lot of points.

    Still, their personnel moves and coaching adjustments can conceal only so much.

    Pro Football Focus ranks the Giants 27th out of 32 NFL teams in pass coverage. Football Outsiders puts the Giants defense at 22nd in the league in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA), an efficiency metric that accounts for opponents faced.

    The Giants have struggled all season especially in two-minute drive situations, surrendering big points at the ends of halves and games. That’s what was so big about Peppers' and Ryan’s back-to-back interceptions to close last week’s win over Washington: It was a welcome change.

    Still, the Giants somehow opened this season with Ballentine as their starting No. 2 corner, and they’ve been playing catch up at that position ever since. The No. 2 corner snap leader in the Giants' nine games has been Ballentine once, Isaac Yiadom four times, and Ryan Lewis four times.

    Yiadom was acquired from Denver late in the summer for a seventh-round pick. He was benched for Lewis after Week 3 but is now the starter again because Lewis is hurt.


    The defensive personnel on the field for the Giants in 2019 frankly was embarrassing.

    Overthecap.com shows the Giants invested the third-least amount of cap space ($58.5 million) in their 2019 defense, and it showed.

    Defensive coordinator James Bettcher got fired and took a lot of heat for a defense that was playing and starting guys like Baker, Ballentine, Haley, Beal and Bethea.

    At least now, since Judge’s tenure has started, the Giants seem to be honestly identifying underperforming players and cutting bait rather than dragging on the inevitable.

    That’s the only way a team really can rebuild and improve: by acquiring better players.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 22: Corey Ballentine #25 of the New York Giants walk off the field after the Philadelphia Eagles pull ahead during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 22, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 22: Corey Ballentine #25 of the New York Giants walk off the field after the Philadelphia Eagles pull ahead during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 22, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)


    Leonard Williams and Logan Ryan were not at Wednesday’s Giants walkthrough practice, but the team said both players were excused. Both had been or would be in for install at some point Wednesday. And both would be back at practice Thursday.

    RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (toe/hip) and TE Kaden Smith (concussion/non-contact) were projected as limited. Golden Tate was on the field after being left off last week’s trip to Washington for disciplinary reasons.

    Left guard Will Hernandez came off the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday. Wideout Dante Pettis was activated after receiving a commissioner’s roster exemption.

    Linebacker Tae Crowder (hamstring) was designated for return from injured reserve and was on the practice field Wednesday. Others such as edge Oshane Ximines (shoulder) could be designated for return on Thursday, Judge said, as the roster juggle continues.


    The Giants are holding virtual meetings on Thursday as an extra precaution with COVID-19 spikes across the country and in the NFL. The Giants are practicing normally all week and meeting in person otherwise. But Judge said mixing virtual meetings in every week could be the routine the rest of the season to make sure everyone stays healthy and safe.


    Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was asked Wednesday whether he wants to be a Giant once his rookie contract runs out after this season. “The Giants organization, I’m loyal, this is family here,” Tomlinson said. The organization likes him, too. They rebuffed trade interest at the deadline.

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