Brandon Marshall adds element of physicality to Giants' receiving corps
Brandon Marshall didn’t last long on the open market, and he doesn’t even need to move houses. After parting ways with the Jets, Marshall will spend his Sundays in the same building playing for the New York Giants after reportedly signing with the team on a two-year deal.
The Giants are stacked with receiver talent, with Odell Beckham Jr. and second-year standout Sterling Shepard already in-house, but Marshall brings a physical presence that they don’t already have on the roster.
Marshall’s play fell off significantly last season; his 71.7 PFF overall grade was the worst mark he has posted since his rookie year, a season in which he saw the ball come his way just 34 times.
Much of Marshall’s troubles can be traced back to the disastrous QB play from the Jets, though. He still saw 121 passes thrown his way, but caught a dismal 48.8 percent of them, the lowest percentage of any receiver to see 65 or more targets. Marshall only dropped seven of those passes, and you don’t need to watch much Ryan Fitzpatrick tape to know that the WR was suffering from an endless nightmare of passes thrown with no real chance of catching them.
Nine interceptions were thrown on passes intended for Marshall in 2016, tied for the most in the NFL when targeting a single receiver, but you can also find signs that he can still play at a high level in his game tape, too.
Marshall was one of a few receivers that Seahawks CB Richard Sherman was tasked with tracking all game when the two played back in Week 4 of the 2016 season. In that game, Marshall caught four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, all coming against Sherman. It was one of just two touchdowns that Sherman allowed all year, and the only time I can remember Seattle’s star cornerback being physically overpowered and dominated in a tussle with a wideout.
Marshall still has rare and freakish power, and the ability to win with physicality in his routes and the catch point, even if he won’t separate like some other receivers. The Giants have guys who can get open, but they have lacked someone that can win the way Marshall is still capable of doing.
That Seahawks game wasn’t the only good outing from Marshall last season. He caught six passes for 101 yards against the Buffalo’s pairing of CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, as well as catching 59-yards worth of passes against Arizona’s Patrick Peterson—the second-most yards Peterson allowed to a single receiver all year.
Marshall has also been among the league’s best blocking receivers all throughout his career, and even last season, graded well in that regard. When he was with the Chicago Bears, he would be given assignments that several TEs in the league couldn’t execute, and was able to make those blocks without problems. Marshall can bring his physical skills to that area of the game with the Giants, too—another boost for a team that does not have strong run blocking from its TE corps.
The biggest black mark on Marshall’s career is his propensity to drop passes, and over his career, he has dropped 10.6 percent of catchable targets, dropping double-digit passes in four seasons of his career. Up until now, it has always been a flaw teams have been prepared to live with because it was offset by his playmaking. That didn’t happen last year with the Jets, but the Giants at least are willing to bet that was more down to the guy passing him the ball than it was to Marshall actually declining.
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