Back in early April, Julian Love anointed himself “the guy.” The versatile defender went on record proclaiming “I want to be the safety of the future for the Giants.” Yet, fast forward four-plus weeks into the regular season, and Love may not even be the safety of the now.
With starter Jabrill Peppers on the mend for Big Blue’s eventual Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Love was expected to man a significant role at safety for the Giants, and understandably so. His 196 snaps throughout the first three weeks of the year were second to only James Bradberry amongst all Giants’ defensive backs.
However, New York had different plans.
Julian Love ‘Supplanted’ by Adrian Colbert?
Love was seemingly tossed aside for early-September waiver addition Adrian Colbert. The former San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins safety outsnapped Love 43-to-17 on the evening. According to North Jersey Media Group’s Zack Rosenblatt, “it appears Colbert has at least supplanted Love on the depth chart.”
Head coach Joe Judge did little to denounce this belief, heaping praise on the four-year veteran while speaking with media earlier this week.
“I’d say AC [Colbert], he’s a guy who comes to work every day, plays with a high motor,” Judge said. “Obviously, we missed him last week. He was out with a strain. He’s a guy we’re happy to have out there. I think he’s making some plays for us. He’s been flying around with high energy, he’s good for the defense out there, he’s good for the team just being a good team player.”
Colbert, who missed Week’s 2 and 3 with a quad injury, adds familiarity to the Giants’ backend. Colbert started the final five games of 2019 for the Dolphins, playing under the watchful eye of now-Giants defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham.
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Love Has Taken a Step Back
Yes, Love’s decreased play time could simply be ill-effects from ankle and knee ailments, which made him questionable heading into Week 4. With that said, no comments out of New York this week have pointed to this being the case.
A fourth-round draft pick in 2019, Love exceeded expectations as a rookie. The former college cornerback made what appeared to be a seamless transition to safety. The former Notre Dame standout compiled 37 tackles on a 92% tackle success rate, five TFL, three pass breakups and one interception. In return, Love ranked as the 13th-best player on Pro Football Focus’ Top 50 NFL Rookies list.
However, Love’s play has taken a drastic step backward thus far in his second pro campaign. After posting a respectable 70.5 PFF grade a season ago, Love’s overall grade throughout the first four weeks has plummeted all the way to just 43.3.
Yet, while Love may look to have fallen out of favor in the Giants’ secondary at the moment, chances are he’ll have more than enough opportunities to redeem himself. For starters, New York has played musical chairs in their secondary all season long and still looks to be in search of their preferred combination. Secondly, with Peppers remaining iffy for Sunday’s game and Colbert limited in practice with a neck injury, Love could once again see his playtime skyrocket quite quickly.
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