Is Giants' secondary improved?

New York needs to have injury luck and more production from D-line

Originally Published: August 6, 2013
By Gary Horton | ESPN Insider

Prince AmukamaraAP Photo/Evan PinkusThe New York Giants need cornerback Prince Amukamara to stay healthy this season.

The New York Giants' secondary took a step back in 2012 for a variety of reasons. A combination of inconsistent play, too many injuries, mental mistakes and -- perhaps worst of all -- a usually terrific pass rush that disappeared, forced the back end of this defense to hold up in coverage for too long. The Giants were near the bottom of the league in most pass defense categories and gave up an alarming number of big plays; by the end of the season they played with little confidence.

This offseason, the Giants lost a key veteran in free agency -- safety Kenny Phillips -- and did very little to add to this group. However, after watching a lot of film on this defense in the past week, the back end of this defense could be improved this season if a couple things go right for New York.

Let's examine why the secondary could be improved for the Giants:

The scheme

It seems like this 4-3 defense has simplified its schemes under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, and they will be very assignment-oriented. They prefer not to blitz a lot, with a real rush-four, drop-seven approach, and while they will play some combo coverages, they try to not put their defensive backs on an island in a lot of man coverages. We will see Cover 2 and Cover 3 looks, and the Giants really like to roll out their 4-2-5 "big nickel" package, which features three safeties. This look -- which takes a linebacker off the field and replaces him with a safety -- helps them athletically and in coverage, but could hurt their physicality versus the run.

If the Giants don't improve significantly from their lowly 33 sacks a year ago, it could force them to blitz more in order to apply pressure -- and that is not a good thing for this unit.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.