Before the season, one glaring common problem for the Giants was their secondary.
Pro Football Focus ranked them 27th in the league.
It was a slight improvement from their 30th ranking in the league last season.
DeAndre Baker’s off-the-field alleged robbery involvement left a corner void opposite newly signed free agent James Bradberry.
Jabrill Peppers was healthy, but his impact remained questionable, and the opposite safety spot was up for grabs.
It was a clouded picture that left plenty of doubt and speculation.
Twelve weeks later, the picture is clearer and the confidence level has meteorically risen.
Yes, it’s true the 3-7 Giants are currently ranked 24th in the league in passing defense, allowing an average of nearly 258 yards per game going into a crucial game Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati against the 2-7-1 Bengals.
It’s a head-scratcher to realistically get excited about a team with three wins and questions threefold as many wins.
But these Giants — notably their secondary — have provided a beacon of hope.
They have allowed an average of nearly 25 points per game, but it is over a turnstile higher than the 37 per contest to start the season. Their current rate places them 12th in the league.
In recent wins of Washington and Philadelphia, the Giants have allowed 19 and 22 points respectively.
The trend is moving upward at the right time, and the secondary has played a major role in it.
It has discovered a solid starting cast and has the understudies to fill the void.
The chemistry, discipline, and focus is evident. They have been supported by a unit in front of them that has generated 25 sacks, six by spiralling standout Leonard Williams.
Bradberry has three of the team’s eight interceptions, and has emerged as a team leader.
GM Dave Gettleman has found immediate solutions to his dilemma with the season-opening signing of Logan Ryan and the acquiring of Issac Yiadom and Madre Harper.
Ryan has been the veteran presence the Giants anticipated alongside Peppers, playing like his days with the Patriots, and three-year vet Yiadom and rookie Harper both have been pleasant surprises alongside Bradberry.
Rookie fourth-round pick corner Darnay Holmes had had his moments, and vet Julian Love has been a solid insurance policy after the team discarded Corey Ballantine, who signed with the Jets.
Highly regarded second-round pick safety Xaiver McKinney is back from injury, and he can gradually gain playing time with the team’s depth over the final six weeks.
Putting it all together, the Giants’ secondary need to piece together their third consecutive strong game Sunday against Cincinnati practice squad quarterback Brandon Allen, who last played a handful of games with Denver last year.
Allen tends to favor a short passing game, but he has longball talents in Tyler Boyd (69 catches), Tee Higgins (43 catches), and longtime favorite A.J. Green (35 catches).
The secondary has come up with the timely plays in recent weeks, but this should be a shutdown game against the Bengals, who have had trouble with their running game.
Respect requires production, and the Giants’ secondary can tie them their unit together in a tighter bow Sunday afternoon.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire