The biggest X factor for the New York Giants’ defense this year is Corey Webster. Webster had an awful 2012. There is just no way around it. He was supposed to be the number one corner for them as he was in 2011, but instead he was constantly beat. In 2011 passes to his receiver averaged a gain of 6.9 yards. In 2012 that ballooned to 9.1, and 9.1 yards/attempt is simply far too high for a player of Webster’s caliber.
This past offseason Webster took a $3 million pay-cut to stay with the Giants. While it shows loyalty to the Giants, a pay-cut like that also illustrates that both the Giants and Webster acknowledge his off year. It also calls into question whether the front office views him as their number one corner anymore.
Webster has been a true asset in the past. In both Super Bowl years (especially in 2007) he was a strong number one corner and arguably one of the top ten corners in the league.
He was not alone in his bad year. The whole Giant defense fell apart at times. Although they ranked 25th in yards allowed it was not quite that bad. Football Outsider’s DVOA statistic adjusts for strength of schedule and other factors to rank them at 16th. Still, for a team with title goals and was supposedly a top defense, even 16th will not cut it.
The Giants did actually have some good contributors in the secondary last year. Steve Brown had key interceptions, Antrel Rolle will always be important in stopping the run, and Prince Amukamara developed significantly. Webster, on the other hand, regressed.
If Webster plays well, the Giants secondary could be extremely strong, especially if the defensive line is getting pressure on the QB. If Webster continues his slide the Giants may have to rely on the oft-injured Terrell Thomas or known below average players like Aaron Ross. Ross and Thomas have their place but will struggle if expected to start. Webster’s play will likely determine the stability of the secondary and probably the defense as a whole.
Jay Cullen is a New York Giants writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter at JayCullen92 or at him to your network on Google.