It didn’t take long for New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins to show the dangers of throwing to his side of the field. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles learned from his mistakes and soon targeted Eli Apple.
Bortles didn’t fare much better throwing in Apple’s direction.
The most underrated Giants performance in Sunday’s 20-15 loss is that of Apple. After allowing a third down in the first quarter, Apple made three keys stops on third down. All three incompletes occurred when Bortles decided to test Apple deep in man-to-man coverage.
“I can always be there right from the hip,” Apple said after the game. “That’s something I take pride in. My speed. I think I can run with anybody. I know I can, actually. So, my thing is staying calm with the ball in the air, making sure I know where the flight of the ball is and making a play on it.”
Apple’s afternoon included three tackles and two passes defended. FOX NFL analyst Ronde Barber, a former Pro Bowl cornerback himself, noted Apple’s “fantastic execution” when he played through the hands of Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
Apple also kept his composure when Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson jammed his hand into Apple’s face. Bortles took a big hit by Michael Thomas. Apple ran into the pile (the Giants dove in the ball in case the incomplete pass was ruled an interception) and shoved Bortles in his lower back. Robinson stood up for his quarterback and assessed a personal foul. Apple didn’t let his emotions get the better of him and wasn’t penalized.
Apple is a former first-round pick in his third season. He showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season only to have his performance level come down last season. Apple’s season worsened when he was suspended by the team and got into a public feud with Landon Collins.
The Giants secondary was a huge question mark coming into the season despite the presence of Jenkins and Collins. If Apple can continue his level, the secondary suddenly becomes formidable. Although the Jaguars receiving corps isn’t exactly scary, Apple and the rest of the secondary can build on Sunday’s performance.
“We played solid,” Apple said. “A couple mental mistakes we made, and that’s something we’ve got to fix. We’ll learn from them. For the most part, we were flying around and making plays, so we’ve got to keep that going.”
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.