The New York Giants signed four free agents off waivers to their active roster; four defensive backs and an offensive guard joined Big Blue. Jets’ safety Jason Pinnock was one of the new additions, and head coach Brian Daboll had an up close and personal look at the versatile defensive back at joint practices last week.
The Pitt alum was a fifth-round pick by the Jets in 2021. He played four years for the Pitt Panthers in Pat Narduzzi’s aggressive defensive scheme. Sound familiar? Pinnock played more than 1,500 snaps at both left and right cornerback in college, with 127 snaps in the slot; he only played one at safety.
Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh saw his athletic profile and transitioned him to safety during his rookie season:
He recorded six interceptions and 17 passes defensed while playing mostly cornerback in college. His size also allows him to play dime linebacker - a task entrusted to him in Saleh’s match quarters scheme. Safeties in two-read type defenses (where the coverage assignments are dictated after the wide receiver’s routes are employed - A.K.A pattern match) need to process quickly, and many assessments turn into man coverage for them.
Pinnock’s background in Narduzzi’s defense and his time with the Jets under Saleh (despite the philosophical and coverage differences) should assist him in a smooth transition to Wink Martindale’s pressure-man heavy scheme.
Here are a compilation of interesting plays from Pinnock’s short time in the NFL:
Pinnock’s fit makes sense for the New York Giants. Let’s see some of the reasons why.
[Jason Pinnock is No. 41]
The Jaguars run a well-executed deep over route that got Pinnock’s hips turned as he attempted to stay over top of Marvin Jones Jr. (11). Pinnock’s speed turn is impressive, and he doesn’t lose much speed at all; he accelerates out of the turn, locates the receiver, angles well, and plays aggressively through the catch point to force the incomplete pass.
(slot, top of screen)
The Falcons run a follow concept from a reduced Bunch type of set on this third-and-6 play. The No. 3 receiver (innermost) releases outside of the No. 2 receiver’s in-breaking route. The Falcons are attempting to draw Pinnock toward the No. 2 receiver breaking inside and hit the No. 3 receiver in the vacated space - this concept is referred to as the follow or replace concept. Pinnock trusts the defense and doesn’t panic; he knows Del’Shawn Phillips (43) will drop off the line of scrimmage and wall off inside crossing routes from the strong side. Pinnock opens his hips inside and flashes his eyes on the initial No. 3 receiver before exploding downhill to deliver a hit. However, the throw was off target, and the pass went incomplete.
(Safety, top of screen - not middle of the field safety)
This is a third-and-9 play against the Eagles in preseason. Pinnock is aligned on the backside of the 3x1 set. He watches the quarterback while seeing the routes of the backside tight end and the running back; both routes break outside, so Pinnock flashes his eyes to the crossing routes from the three receiver side. He sees the intermediate dig and stays where he’s supposed to be to remove the receiving threat. It’s not much on this play, but it shows the mental clock of Pinnock and how he seems to play calmly.
(middle of field safety)
The Buffalo Bills align in EMPTY, and Dawson Knox (88) runs directly at Pinnock on this 3rd & Goal. Knox initiates contact and works back toward Josh Allen (17). Pinnock does well to collect himself and work underneath Knox while accounting for Allen’s ability to extend plays. Pinnock gets his eyes on Knox, maintains underneath leverage, and squeezes Knox towards the back of the end zone, eliminating him as a viable option. Unfortunately for the Jets, Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs (14) are ridiculously good.
Man in slot
(slot, bottom of screen)
Pinnock shows impressive recovery skills against the electric Jaylen Waddle (17). The rookie sensation cleanly wins off the line of scrimmage, as Pinnock shaded too far inside; Pinnock does a good job flipping his hips and getting right into Waddle’s hip pocket. A great throw from Tua Tagovailoa (1) goes right into Waddle’s arms for a solid pickup, but Pinnock is all over him on this play.
(No. 3 slot, bottom of screen)
This play wasn’t as impressive for Pinnock, but it was a great third down recovery; Cole Beasley (11) is well off the line of scrimmage, and he does a good job eating into Pinnock’s leverage before swatting the jam attempt away and winning outside. Beasley gets out of the break very quickly, and the football is there for the receiver. However, Pinnock quickly locates Beasley and drags him down before the first down marker, and he forced a fumble that went out of bounds.
The Jacksonville Jaguars attempted a few read options against the Jets near the goal line. Saleh used the quick burst of Pinnock to force Trevor Lawrence (16) to keep the ball; the Jets would crash the End Man On the Line Of Scrimmage (EMOLOS) hard, causing Lawrence to keep, and then aggressively replace the EMOLOS with the safety. Pinnock does a great job containing Lawrence and squaring up, shaded outside, and forcing him back to interior pursuit defenders. The rookie quarterback attempts to dive for the end zone, but Pinnock punches the ball loose and forces the fumble.
The Jets have the same defensive mindset here - crash aggressively, replace, box inside, and tackle. Pinnock gets square, wraps Lawrence around the waist, and drags him to the deck.
(Safety on DEF right hash)
Pinnock is the weak side safety, opposite the overload side. I appreciate how quickly Pinnock flies over to the ball carrier to help make this tackle. The SAM linebacker helped trip the running back, but he could have realistically been eliminated by the combo block up front. Pinnock seemed to have the explosiveness to get to the running back regardless.
The end around to Wan’Dale Robinson (17) was initially stopped by Pinnock, who flew into the tackle point with reckless abandon. He was looking for the big hit on this play, and he made enough contact with Robinson to force him off balance. Pinnock can pick up speed and has good overall size for the position.
(the guy who stands out)
I saw this play and loved it. The linebacker over pursed, and Devin Singletary made the Jets pay, but the hustle and speed of Pinnock saved the touchdown. He took a good angle too.
The Giants need an upgrade at cornerback, and they could use a fourth player to round out their safety room if Jefferson remains on the practice squad. Adding a player like Pinnock can assist with both of these issues. His college experience, combined with his size, make him a candidate to initially back up Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson. The Jets had to make a lot of tough cuts - seven of their players were claimed off waivers. The 23-year-old Pinnock has upside, versatility, and he’s smart, tough, and dependable. Now he’s a member of the Giants’ 5-man roster.