The Giants defense played well this year despite some injuries and fielding some guys who were marginal NFL players, much less starters. The defensive schemes were solid, the unit played disciplined football, they tackled well, didn't incur too many penalties or give up frequent big plays. Following is a quick summary:
Defensive Line - Dexter Lawrence in 2022 had a season that clearly defined breakout. Moving him from playing 3/4 technique to NT allowed him to dominate the interior rather than participate on the outside. Previously he was a control the LOS guy who would push the pocket and that is a very important role. But it wasn't the best use of his talents. He just had a brilliant season. Biggest concern is his workload. He played 82% of defensive snaps this year which is about 15% more than his career mark. That is a significant increase especially since he moved inside and was getting blocked from all angles. He also played 89% of snaps in the two playoff games which is a brutal workload. Everyone gets concerned about how RB's have a short shelflife, the same can be true of the big men. It needs to be a major priority to bring in some quality 2nd tier DLinemen and create a rotation. When Dexter is playing 82% of snaps, and a banged up L. Williams is playing 75%, you don't really have a rotation.
L. Williams has been a rock solid player throughout his career. He's not the game wrecker Gettleman paid him to be but he has always been a very good and consistent player. Much like Dexter, his workload needs to be managed. After having a really good season in 2020 (his age 26 season) he has significantly declined statistically, due in some (perhaps large) part to to injuries. His sacks/TFL/QB Hits in 2020 were 11.5/14/30. The last two years combined are 9/10/26. he remains a very good player but the Giants need to quickly find his replacement as well as supplementing the DL.
The rest of the guys (Ward, Anderson, Ellis, Mondeaux) do not need to be accounted for by any OC. The Eagles ran with impunity against the Giants (268 yards) and all teams averaged 5.2 YPC against the Giants. The Giants need to deal with this now as this appears to be the blueprint to beat the Giants. Not every team has the Eagles OL but you don't need to either.
EDGE - Thibs had a solid rookie year. He clearly has talent, a good motor and generally keeps his head in the game. It will be interesting to see how he approaches next season. His workload was also heavy late in the season and he was rarely coming off the field. As with most playmakers, he needs some breathers to maintain that twitch which makes him special. If he develops and refines his technique, he could become a special player and not just a talented guy. Believe he has it in him and looking forward to next season.
Azeez has a lot of talent and unfortunately this was just a lost season. Still don't really know what we have with him. He had a good season statistically as a rookie but really not a lot of impact plays. He seems like a solid kid and believe his return will add some playmaking ability to the defense. The combination of Azeez and Thibs certainly represents the highest upside of any position group on the current roster.
Ximines, Fox, and Elerson Smith are all guys who can fight for roster spots. None are absent talent but also none have done anything to distinguish themselves.
Inside Linebacker - This is the weakest group on the team. Smith, Davis, McFadden, Collins, Coughlin, Brown. Collins is a sure tackler and reads plays well but he is really a niche player at this time. Smith is a lower case Alec Ogletree who is usually on the periphery of the play and drags guys down rather than tackling them. Believe Davis was brought in because he is 245 lbs. and could hold up against the run. unfortunately it didn't work with Reggie Ragland last year and it didn't work this year. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin have combined for 59 defensive snaps over the last two seasons. So they are on the team to be ST "Aces". That doesn't appear to be the case either although it's possible that the Scottish Hammer is so erratic with directional punting that the ST guys don't really have a chance.
Cornerback - Adoree Jackson is very talented and more refined that I'd given him credit for being. He is also a better tackler than I'd believed. He'll be entering his age 28 season and believe the Giants will strongly consider offering him an extension. As Schoen said in his presser, you know the guys in your building and how they prepare. If they are happy with Jackson, expect to see a 2-3 year extension.
Moreau is a solid veteran in the mold of Ross Cockrell. Good guy to have on the team. He can get exposed by better receivers but that is to be expected from a guy making the veteran minimum. Flott is clearly a projection at this point. He's quite young (21) and lean (165 lbs.) but he should fill out and hope he develops his skills. Holmes reminds me of Grant Haley. Willing and good tackler but issues in coverage. McCloud is a physical player but not sure if he will hold up in coverage if out there too much. Maybe he will surprise in camp. Williams and Robinson have both had a tough go of it for two years. Unlike Flott, they will be entering their age 27 and 26 seasons so they will really need to impress during the next camp.
Safeties - McKinney is a talented player but honestly not sure what to make of him. He's good in run support and doesn't seem to get burned in coverage but also doesn't seem to make many plays. Part of it this year could be the additional responsibilities given to him. He seems to be a gamer with the right attitude so may just be off in what I'm seeing or not seeing. Should get a sense what the team thinks this offseason as he is a candidate for extension if they're sold on him.
Love is a solid player. He's not a playmaker but doesn't miss plays either. He's a sure tackler and pass defender. Seems to have been a bit late on some plays recently but can't be certain if the receiver was even his responsibility. Would like to see him remain a Giant. Good teams need guys like him.
Pinnock and Belton made some plays and missed some plays. Pinnock seems to be an instinctive player but goes for hits instead of tackles and that can be problematic. Belton really seemed to be adjusting to the pro game. Next year will provide a better idea of who he is but he certainly played hard, right off the bat, for someone who suffered a broken clavicle in preseason.
Special Teams - Gano is as solid as they come and his contract expires after next season. Hopeful that Schoen deals with that quickly this offseason.
The Scottish Hammer is far too erratic for a four year veteran. Don't see any upside and he can't be viewed as an asset. Would move on and find another guy.