Stevie Brown has been the man of the month in the Giants’ defensive backfield since Kenny Phillips went down with a knee injury. In the past six games, Brown has helped the Giants dominate the turnover margin, but against the Cincinnati Bengals, we saw how ugly it can get when the takeaways run dry.
Last week, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green talked about exploiting some holes that he saw in New York’s secondary. On his team’s first drive of the game, Green caught a 56-yard bomb from quarterback Andy Dalton. The second-year receiver was so wide open that he was able to jog into the end zone untouched.
Many fans want to see Brown retain his starting job when Phillips is fully healthy due to his nose for the ball, but huge miscommunications like that can prove to be fatal down the stretch. Sure, Phillips doesn’t make as many plays on the ball as Brown, but that’s because opposing quarterbacks know not to test his ability.
Phillips is an established safety in the league, and his knowledge and understanding of the Giants' defensive scheme is right up there with a player like linebacker Chase Blackburn, whom the coaching staff consider the most knowledgeable player on the defensive side of the ball. He is more athletic than Brown, making him a better option for covering tight ends.
While no tight end has been able to replicate Jason Witten’s 18-catch performance during Phillips' absence, several other tight ends have had successful moments against New York’s secondary. For example, Washington’s Logan Paulsen led the Redskins receivers with four catches for 78 yards in Week 7, and Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham had a big touchdown grab in the Bengals’ victory last Sunday.
The Giants have given up an absurd 39 catches of 20 yards or more this season. They need their center fielder back to shut down some of those big plays.