The New York Giants harassed Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Baker Mayfield all afternoon in Big Blue’s 19-16 home victory on Sunday. The Giants almost doubled their pressures from Week 1 (20 to 11), and they were able to sack Mayfield on two critical plays, one that just about sealed the Giants’ victory.
Carolina had a dismal third-down conversion rate of 16 percent, whereas the Giants had a 35 percent pressure rate. New York’s pass defense had an EPA (Expected Points Added) of 9.74, according to Pro Football Reference; conversely, Carolina’s EPA was only 0.32 against the pass, and Daniel Jones only threw for 176 yards.
Martindale frequently used three safety looks and matched speed with speed - a stark difference from the Week 1 game plan. Despite using three safeties often, Martindale employed Cover-0 looks (not always full-out blitzes) on 7.4 percent of the plays. Some of these plays were the safeties dropping into a middle hook in a Tampa-2 Robber type of situation.
The defense rotated pre-to-post-snap, sent unblocked rushers, took advantage of a rookie left tackle, and created a numbers advantage in protection several times. Mayfield was flustered and was forced out of the pocket on multiple occasions. He also left completions on the field with inaccurate passes.
Martindale schemed to remove Christian McCaffrey from the passing game. In Week 1, running back Dontrell Hilliard scored two receiving touchdowns against the Giants' second level defenders - that was not going to happen in Week 2.
Everything from the game plan, the defensive calls, and the player’s execution deserve respect, especially with Cor’Dale Flott forced to start after Aaron Robinson’s appendectomy. The Giants lost one of their defensive leaders in Leonard Williams in the second half, yet still were able to wreak havoc against a bad offense.
The Giants are now 2-0. Here is a breakdown of several crucial defensive plays throughout the Giants’ Week 2 victory.