When word got out that the New York Giants were hosting free-agent middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley on Wednesday there was a universal cry from Giants' fans of 'Brinkley? What the heck is Jerry Reese thinking?' Don't believe me? Check many of the comments in one of our earlier free agency posts.
So, what is the deal with Brinkley? He is a 27-year-old four-year veteran who started for the first time for the Vikings in 2012, compiling 99 tackles and forcing three fumbles. His Pro Football Focus numbers tell you precisely what he is -- a two-down run defender who struggles against the pass. The numbers from PFF are as follows: -18.0 overall (-13.5 in pass coverage), -1.8 in run defense.
What were Blackburn's PFF numbers as the Giants' middle linebacker in 2012? He was -10.0 overall, with a -7.0 in coverage and a -7.1 score vs. the run.
I asked Christopher Gates of SB Nation's Vikings web site, The Daily Norseman, for his take on Brinkley.Here is what he said.
"If a team signs Brinkley, their best hope is that he's a two-down linebacker. He's quite good when he's playing "downhill" against the run, but he struggles in coverage. In the Vikings' largely zone-based scheme, he struggles in getting deep enough in his drops, which leaves the middle of the field open.
If a team is able to bring him off the field in nickel situations, then Brinkley would be a nice fit as a two-down middle linebacker. I don't think he's ever really going to be a three-down guy, though."
So, why would the Giants be interested in a player like Brinkley? Perhaps because over and over this offseason head coach Tom Coughlin has said the Giants simply have to be better against the run next season. The Giants surrendered 4.6 yards per rushing attempt in 2012, 26th in the league. In 2011, they surrendered 4.5 yards per rush, 24th.
Brinkley seems like an obvious liability against the pass, but an upgrade vs. the run. Used properly, perhaps his strength matches a Giants' need.
The Giants officially announced the free-agent signing of placekicker Josh Brown.
"Josh is an experienced, proven kicker in this league," said general manager Jerry Reese. "Just like we try to do at every position, we expect great competition for the placekicking job, and that will only make us better."
The Giants also announced three changes to their coaching staff.
Lunda Wells, entering his second season with the team, is the new assistant offensive line coach. He spent last season as an offensive assistant. Wells replaces Matt Rhule, who left the Giants after one year to become the head coach at Temple University.
Replacing Wells as the team's offensive assistant is Ryan Roeder, a former quarterback at the University at Albany who spent the last three seasons as the tight ends coach at Princeton University.
The Giants also hired Robbie Leonard as the team's new defensive assistant. He replaces Al Holcomb, who left to be the Carolina Panthers' linebackers coach.