Remember when it was foolish for opposing quarterbacks to test James Bradberry because the Giants had a huge hole at No. 2 cornerback?
Ah, simpler times.
Of all the many things wrong with the Giants — especially on defense — right now, none are more surprising than Bradberry’s struggles. He has allowed 12 catches on 15 targets for 115 yards and two touchdowns in two games, and is the No. 27-ranked cornerback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Is it time to be concerned?
“On James Bradberry? One of the best in the league?” safety Logan Ryan asked incredulously.
The Giants signed Adoree’ Jackson as the No. 2 cornerback so teams couldn’t just avoid Bradberry like last season. Instead, teams are directly challenging No. 1.
Bradberry didn’t seem shaken after either of his first two games, though he admitted he “needed” to make a big play like the interception with less than three minutes remaining that set up the Giants’ go-ahead score against Washington. But, because the Giants were offside and Washington converted a second-chance walk-off field goal to win, Bradberry’s takeaway was overshadowed.
It reminded Ryan of a recent quote from Ravens offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger.
“If we get a missed field goal at the end, James Bradberry made the play to win the game,” Ryan said. “What did Alejandro Villanueva say? As a tackle, it’s like jumping out of an airplane — not a lot of upside. That’s the same thing as being a corner.
“Either they don’t throw at you and they don’t write about you, or you give up a play and now you suck. That’s the nature of being a DB, and that’s why you’ve got to be a different dude. That’s why they pay you a lot of money when you’re pretty good at it.”
All good points, except there was plenty written in this space about Bradberry’s excellence last season, when he finished second in the NFL with 18 passes defended, made his first Pro Bowl and lived up to a three-year, $43.5 million free-agent contract.
Ryan wondered what the analytics said about the Giants’ win probability after Bradberry’s interception. Well, the Giants had a 61.5 percent chance to beat Washington right after the turnover. A few seconds later, it climbed to 71.3 percent.
But the lead changed hands four times in the final five minutes, ending with Washington’s knockout blow and prompting a basketball analogy.
“I played corner for a lot of years: When you’re not having a great day, it’s really hard to respond,” Ryan said. “James is a better corner than I ever was. To see him respond in the way that he did to make the game-winning play, that’s like Steph Curry when he’s having an off-night and he hits a buzzer-beater 3-pointer and we’re calling him a hero [for] how he’s able to respond with adversity.
“So that’s what James did, to me. He came in and almost hit a buzzer-beater. He hit it with 20 seconds left and they came and hit a buzzer-beater.”
The Giants signed undrafted rookie guard Cole Banwart and defensive back Steven Parker (22 career games played) to the practice squad. Tight end Ryan Izzo was released. There was one empty spot after center Matt Skura was signed to the 53-man roster last week.