Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and his staff have many things to reflect on and review during this bye week, and what's been going on in the secondary is definitely at the top of the list.
This very young group has struggled throughout the season. The Giants' pass defense is currently ranked 24th in the league, with 259 yards allowed per game. And they allow the sixth-worst quarterback rating at 103.5 on average.
While every player in the secondary can share the blame for their bad moments this season, first-round pick DeAndre Baker has been the worst.
The Georgia product was heralded for his aggressive nature and ability to match up with top receivers after the Giants traded back into the first round to nab him at 30th overall. But his rookie campaign has seen a lot more bad plays than good. From blown coverages to simply getting beat in 1-on-1 matchups, Baker has been fighting to keep his starting role each week. And Shurmur hasn't wavered when asked if a change was coming.
But it should after the bye week.
Just look at the stats for Baker:
- Pro Football Focus overall grade of 32.2
- 662 passing yards allowed (66.2 per game)
- 40 receptions on 58 targets
- 6 touchdowns allowed
- 138.9 passer rating allowed
With the Giants already at 2-8, it's worth seeing another option opposite Janoris Jenkins. And the next guy up would be second-year CB Sam Beal.
In reality, Beal is a rookie. He "redshirted" his rookie season after getting shoulder surgery, and he was starting in training camp at one point before a hamstring injury kept him out all the way up to last week against the Jets when he made his NFL debut.
Beal was a supplemental round draft pick by GM Dave Gettleman in the third round, and the Giants believed it was worth it to see if he lived up to the "best supplemental round pick since Josh Gordon" phrase that was stuck to his name.
Like Baker, he was a very aggressive corner that his Western Michigan team had confidence to leave alone on the outside. And he's spent all this time working on the playbook and studying film while rehabbing his way back to the team.
Now that he can suit up finally, Beal should get his shot at a start on the outside against the Bears on Sunday. This isn't to say that the Giants are going to give up on Baker after 10 games, no matter how bad he's been in them. At this point in the year with playoff hopes all but mathematically gone, why not see what he can do in the big moment?
Baker has been hard to watch, and he even admitted that he needed to improve on learning the playbook and knowing his assignment. There have been too many instances where he doesn't realize what coverage he's in, and it has cost the Giants big chunk plays. And, thanks to The Athletic's Dan Duggan, there was a lack of hustle play against the Jets as well.
Beal has worked hard to get back on the field, and the Giants should reward him with a shot to prove he's everything the Giants hoped for when they took that supplemental round chance last season.