From the time James Bettcher was hired as defensive coordinator by Pat Shurmur Shaquil Barrett Jersey , there has been speculation whether the New York Giants were switching from a four-man front to a three-man look.
After all, it’s what the 39-year-old Bettcher ran with the Arizona Cardinals last season.
Bettcher dropped a hint Wednesday in his first interview since taking the job: He is not into labeling defensive schemes.
The Giants are going to use a lot of formations, including three- and four-man fronts. Sometimes, they are going to put five up front. They are going to keep offenses guessing, and they are going to attack.
”What it is about is playing relentless,” Bettcher said. ”The game is about playing hard. The game is about playing physical. The game is about playing smart. Those are things that our guys are going to do whether we are bringing five or six or dropping eight, whatever we are doing, whatever the field position is. The thing our fans are going to see, they are going to see a defense that is going to run around, that plays hard, plays fast and plays smarts and plays physical. That’s what playing defense is about.”
Bettcher will start laying the foundation for his defense Monday when players show up for organized team activities. The OTAs are a time that most coaches and coordinators begin discovering what they have, especially with a new team.
”Right now, if you asked me who we are on defense, I have no clue,” Bettcher said Adam Gotsis Jersey , adding by the end of training camp he will know.
The Giants certainly will have a different look, at least based on personnel.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was released and fellow CB Ross Cockrell was signed by Carolina as a free agent. The Giants added Alec Ogletree in a trade with the Rams and signed fellow linebacker Kareem Martin as a free agent. LB Devon Kennard signed with Detroit as a free agent, while defensive captain Jonathan Casillas, also a linebacker, remains a free agent.
The mainstays up front will be tackles Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson along with end Olivier Vernon. Ogletree and Martin will be the core of the linebackers, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Landon Collins will anchor the secondary.
”This isn’t going to be James Bettcher’s defense,” Bettcher said. ”This is going to be our players’ defense, this is going to be these assistant coaches’ defense, this is going to be our defense.”
The process of putting the defense together will be done over the next five-plus months, and a version of the final product will be rolled out in early September. Bettcher said everyone is starting with a clean slate. There are some who need that.
There was squabbling among the defensive backs last season, and 2016 first-round draft pick Eli Apple miffed some teammates with his attitude and play.
Defensive end Josh Mauro, who played for Bettcher in Arizona before signing with the Giants as a free agent, will sit out the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancers.
Bettcher called Apple a very talented player who can do everything expected of a cornerback.
”He’s a guy that, I think it’s a guy that has expectations for himself and that’s the most important thing,” Bettcher said.
In his three years as Cardinals defensive coordinator Rod Smith Jersey , Bettcher’s unit was consistently among the NFL’s best in yardage allowed and run defense. Arizona led the league in sacks (48) in 2016, and Chandler Jones had a league-high 17 last season.
”I just love football, I love watching football, I love talking about it, I love being around it,” Bettcher said. ”I probably tire my wife out very much when we watch football. We’re home and it’s in-season and it’s a Saturday afternoon when we have some time and we have college football in the house and we’re watching ball. So it’s an exciting time.”
And a time to build a defense.
Eli Manning isn't paying much attention to the NFL draft, even with the possibility of the New York Giants using the No. 2 overall pick to take an heir apparent to the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Manning doubted that he would watch the first round of the draft on Thursday, saying it wouldn't be hard to find out whether general manager Dave Gettleman either went for a quarterback or opted to take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, or traded down.
Manning didn't seem to care. He was more concerned with learning Pat Shurmur's offense during a three-day voluntary minicamp, and he was enjoying all the compliments his new head coach was heaping on him.
A day ago, Shurmur called Manning the fittest 37-year-old he has seen. His play was the coach's focus Wednesday.
"This guy's a pro," Shurmur said. "What you noticed about him is you only have to run a play or two, and he gets the drill calibrated and he gets his feet right and he makes the throw. I quickly, after being with him one day on the field, see why he's been so successful for so long."
Manning believes Shurmur's offense mixes concepts used by former coaches Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo. The verbiage is different.
Shurmur is different Christian McCaffrey Jersey , too. He does more coaching on the field than either of his predecessors.
"A lot of times in this time of year you have a few weeks to practice some routes and practice things on the field before you go practice them," Manning said. "This year you're kind of thrown right into the mix and we're kind of learning on the fly a little bit."
There seems to be no doubt that Manning will be running the offense, no matter who the Giants take in the draft coming off a 3-13 season.
"I feel good. I'm moving around well," said Manning, who has 14 years of NFL experience on his resume. "I'm always working on my flexibility and my conditioning and offseason lifting and everything, so I haven't relaxed on that in any sense. I know I need that to kind of keep up with those other guys, but I feel good in that sense and I have to keep it that way."
Manning has spent a lot of the offseason with backup quarterback Davis Webb, lifting, working out and watching videotapes of the offense Shurmur used as the coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings last season.
The draft has more meaning for Webb, who was taken by the Giants in the third round last year. He never played, so it is hard to evaluate him.
Yet Webb doesn't feel like he has anything to prove.
"All I've got to do is show what I've got and that's up to them," he said. "I try to do the best I can in the meeting rooms, the weight workouts, the practices especially. Just kind of show what I have and let them make a decision. It's out of my control and I'm not really too worried about it, I promise. I just work hard and I know I'm going to get a chance someday."
Webb has a lot of confidence and he has thrown some good passes in the minicamp. He plans to watch the first round of the draft Graham Glasgow Jersey , just to see who the Giants take.
Having played for California, he knows a couple of the highly regarded quarterback in the draft, Sam Darnold of Southern Cal and Josh Rosen of UCLA. He has seen some of them walking around the Giants' headquarters for pre-draft meetings.
"I understand, that's their job. Listen, if I was a GM, I understand, I'd do the same thing," Webb said. "So, that does not hurt my feelings, I do not care about that. The only thing I worry about is being the best I can be because I know I'm going to get an opportunity in this league and when that comes, I'm going to be ready."
NOTES: ... DT Damon Harrison was not at the minicamp, but he called Shurmur to explain why. ... The coach said he has spoken with absent RT Ereck Flowers, but he did not say what was said.
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