Dane Belton regained a stumble in his first NFL game. What he did to the other 46 giants may be just as important.
Returning from a broken collarbone he suffered early in training camp, Pelton patrolled the deep part of the field on Sunday and freed starting safety Julian Love and Xavier McKinney for unique assignments. Suddenly, the Giants are back in dependence on three tanks as they were when Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and Love or McKinney were in 2020 — or, dare we say, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle, and Deon Grant at the height of 2011.
“At the end of the day, you just want your best players on the field,” said Loew, who appears to be reborn as more than just an assistant player under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. “Wink does a great job of playing to players’ strengths, which not every coach does. So we have the freedom to know that we put in situations where we can succeed.”
Love moved into the penalty area on 38 of his 58 defensive shots to replace full-back Austin Calletro (five shots, down from 44 in Week 1) and used seven passing times, including in a blitz that led to his third pullback. The sack that ended the leopards’ final possession. McKinney overshadowed the All-Pro undoing every move of Christian McCaffrey in a one-on-one game and thought he “did a very good job taking him out of the game.”
But Pelton’s smooth appearance made all that possible. The Novice’s fourth-round pick announced his arrival by falling on the ball when the Panthers flopped in the opener – putting together three easy points – totaling 12 assists in special teams and 46 in defense.
“Oh my God, this is the beginning of a career,” Love said. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He would do so much for us. Quite frankly he needs to do so much for us. That’s what is expected of him and he knows it. The future is bright for him.”
Pelton spent six weeks on the sidelines watching a bonus movie and gathering exploratory reports on tight ends and quarterbacks for pre-season games with instruction from defensive back coaches Jerome Henderson and Mike Trier. However, Henderson expected Pelton to have “big eyes” early in the game as he was nervously introduced to the NFL.
The improved vision may have helped him find the ball as well as calm any tensions.
“When he wasn’t able to train, he was behind the safety start every time like a shadow, making calls and adjustments when we were doing our rounds,” Henderson said recently. “He gave himself the best opportunity to play fast. I expect after the first few plays he will settle in and be the player we were drafted to be.”
Pelton did four treatments and did not allow reception. He was the third-highest rookie safe in Week Two by Pro Football Focus, although he did take a poor tackle corner at 49 yards by McCaffrey.
“I have to trust that I’m ready, and play the style of football I know – to be physical, to be smart and to be able to play fast,” Bilton said recently. “Once I got back to [practice] Domain, I feel like there was no hiccup from the fear of being hit.”
Six defensive linemen played more than 70 percent of defensive shots in what Loew described as the “Christian McCaffrey effect” and the need for “speed on the field to calculate what he can do with the ball in his hands”. No wonder the Panthers didn’t factor in Love – who played Pelton’s high-security spot for 37 shots in the Week 1 tape that proved futile for exploration purposes – in the decisive blitzkrieg.
‘Which – which [could be] McKinney said. “He was the one who got the job done and I’m glad he got it done because we got off the field. This isn’t anyone’s design. We’re just trying to create some pressure.”
Consider the pelton another chess piece that makes it possible to diversify the look.
“You can tell his preparations are paying off,” said coach Brian Dabol. “It was good to be there in terms of defensive firmness.”