The New York Giants have plenty to be excited about with their 2-0 record and it’s largely due to their defensive performances. After two weeks of the 2022 season, the Giants have given up just 36 points, which is tied for 11th in the league.
New York has missed injured starting edge defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari for the first two games. Starting cornerback Aaron Robinson was out Week 2 due to undergoing an appendectomy and defensive tackle Leonard Williams left in the third quarter and didn’t return Sunday with a knee injury.
Don “Wink” Martindale’s defense forced Baker Mayfield to complete 14 of 29 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. While Christian McCaffrey did run for 102 yards, 49 of it came on one carry.
All in all, the Giants’ defense did their job in covering Carolina’s wideouts and getting pressure on Mayfield.
With that being said, there’s one under-the-radar player on the Giants’ defense that is finally getting his recognition.
Giants Defensive Back Showing
2019 fourth-round Giants safety Julian Love was given the starting role entering the 2022 season. Before Week 1, he appeared in 48 career games (16 starts) and posted an interception in each of the past three seasons.
The Notre Dame product had a team-high eight tackles in Week 2 and even recorded a sack on Mayfield, which forced a punt with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Panthers never received the ball back.
On Sunday, Love played all 58 defensive snaps and 19 more on special teams.
After seeing Love’s Week 2 performance, Giants insider tweeted, “I think it’s safe to say that everybody wants Julian Love to receive a second contract in blue #Giants.”
Love was named a team captain before the season, despite not being a full-time starter in the past. It’s evident that teammates respect the fourth-year pro, since he received enough player votes from both the defensive side of the ball and from special teams.
“I’m not going to lie; it means an awful lot to me,” Love said in August, via Sports Illustrated. “I’ve never been a captain in my entire life, and to do it for the Giants of all places at the highest level, it’s hard not to get emotional about it.
Of course, there’s still time for New York to decide on Love’s future. He’ll be a free agent after the 2023 season.
But the Giants would love to have Love opposite starting safety Xavier McKinney for the foreseeable future.
Another Overlooked Giants Defensive Standout
It hasn’t been easy for the 2019 third-round pick edge rusher Oshane Ximines, but the hard work looks like it’s paying off.
He had one of the team’s two sacks in Week 2 and recorded a pass breakup. The outside linebacker also batted a pass down during the season-opening win vs the Titans. His 80.5 overall grade from Pro Football is also the highest on the Giants’ defense for the first two games.
Ximines’ rookie campaign had decent results with 4.5 sacks and one pass breakup. But his second season was lost due to season-ending shoulder surgery. He only played 10 games in 2021 and didn’t post a sack while breaking up three passes. It didn’t look encouraging when the Giants drafted Thibodeaux in the 2022 draft and added Jihad Ward in free agency.
But Ximines has stepped up to the plate with the injuries to Thibodeaux and Ojulari.
“I’ve said this from the beginning. Again, I don’t know where he was last year. I just know where he is this year,” Coach Daboll said about Ximines after the game, via Giants.com. “His mind’s on right. He’s been a big part of our football team. He’s got energy. I think he has talent. I think Wink’s getting talent out of him. He’s a confident player.”