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Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?

Klaatu : 9/10/2017 9:24 am

Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, our own Sy'56 had this to say about Clemson LB B.J. Goodson:

I saw a ton of Goodson in 2015 and #44 kept popping on to the screen. There were so many players on that defense that I was scouting and time after time Goodson was right in the middle of the action. After further review I almost had him as a 1st rounder. Goodson is thick but fast and quick-twitched. He has all the power you want and maintains it on the move. Goodson moves well enough in coverage to possibly stay on the field for three downs. He is smart and reliable, rarely misses tackles. I don’t see superstar here and he can get overwhelmed in traffic, but Goodson is a guy that simply brings it play after play, week after week. I think he can be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out.

After the draft, I was excited to see Goodson in action, but 2016 turned out to be essentially a red-shirt year for him. He saw very little action last year, with most of what he did see coming on special teams. In his place, the Giants preferred to go with free agent acquisitions Kelvin Sheppard and Keenan Robinson, with decidedly mixed results. While Robinson proved to be an asset, particularly in coverage, Sheppard appeared to be a liability.

Fast forward to 2017. The Giants re-signed Robinson (albeit on another one-year deal), but chose not to re-sign Sheppard (and I'm fairly certain that most of us did not "mourn Sheppard's passing" just as Dolphin fans didn't the year prior). The stage was set for the seldom-used Goodson to make his presence known, and he did exactly that as soon as the offseason program began.

As Sy pointed out to when I asked him about Goodson's emergence as a starter (and a three-down LB to boot) from relative obscurity as a rookie, the role of the MIKE is just as dependent on the mental aspect of the game as it is on the physical...maybe even more so. For Goodson, there was a lot more needed to get him up to speed than being a big hitter, and most of what was needed was between his ears. Enter Antonio Pierce.

Hardly the most gifted athlete to man the middle for Big Blue, Pierce was nonetheless smart, tough, and relentless, and as an interim coach for the Giants (brought in by his former DC, Steve Spagnuolo, to work with Goodson) he took the second-year pro under his wing this summer and helped him prepare for his new role as a starter. I don't think that Goodson could have had a better mentor.

“He stays in my ear so it’s never ending,” Goodson told the Daily News. “But I love it. I really, really appreciate it a lot.”

It's easy to dismiss the role of the LB in the Giants' 4-3 defense, what with their emphasis on defensive linemen and defensive backs. It's easy to overlook the LBs, what with potential DPOY candidates such as JPP and Landon Collins on the field...with arguably the most dominant DT in the game in Damon Harrison, and arguably the best CB corps the Giants have had since, well, ever. LBs are seemingly an afterthought.

Well, B.J. Goodson is no afterthought - not anymore - and with Sheppard gone and Robinson on the shelf, he's going to play a major role on the Giants' defense, a defense that rose like a phoenix in 2016 from the ashes of 2015's historical futility. I certainly hope that Sy was correct in his pre-draft assessment of Goodson, because I'm really looking forward to watching him bring it "play after play, week after week."

Light 'em up, kid.
Awesome post  
adamg : 9/10/2017 9:30 am : link
Despite Robinson and Odell likely being out, the door is open to see what our depth can do and how good our other starters really are. A guy like Goodson has as big of platform as he'll get this regular season. I'm expecting him to shine.
Awesome post.  
Diver_Down : 9/10/2017 9:35 am : link
I'll be happy if he plays smart...  
Milton : 9/10/2017 9:43 am : link
...and makes a lot of tackles at the LOS on 1st and 2nd downs.
Great test for BJ Goodson tonight. Especially going against  
Jimmy Googs : 9/10/2017 10:02 am : link
Zeke, Witten and all the shallow crossing routes the Cowboys like to run.

How great would it be if he set the tone early tonight by popping Witten and have the ball fly up for a pick-6...

(hint: really great)
Another point worth mentioning about Antonio Pierce:  
Big Blue Blogger : 9/10/2017 10:28 am : link
In his first three seasons, he tallied a total of just 85 tackles - a figure he surpassed in each of the following five years, with a high of 137 in his second season with the Giants. Pierce might never have climbed off the bottom of the Redskin depth chart if not for injuries to Shawn Barber and LaVar Arrington in 2001 and - especially - Micheal Barrow in 2004.

Pierce got a golden opportunity to play as a rookie, but frankly wasn't anything special (mostly playing OLB), and spent the next two years as an obscure backup. His career underscores the importance of the mental aspect, perseverence, and - for coaches and even fans - a bit of patience.
Sean Lee  
clydeman1 : 9/10/2017 10:39 am : link
I remember last year(I think it was the second meeting) Lee was all over the field, accounting for most of Dallas' tackles. Let's hope our counterpart can be 80% as efficient.
If I remember correctly  
SLIM_ : 9/10/2017 10:40 am : link
Sy was saying that he thought that he had the potential to start at WILL last year. It only occurred to me during this post that maybe he can really be a 3 down linebacker and maybe the reason why Robinson (who played well last year) was only resigned for a year.

Great post....  
sb from NYT Forum : 9/10/2017 11:11 am : link
...and Antonio Pierce was really one of those "you'll miss him when he's gone" players for sure.
We finally get to see  
Doomster : 9/10/2017 11:43 am : link
what this 4th round pick can Perkins, he has been handed the job, because there is no one's a great's all up to would be great if we finally start hitting on some linebackers in the draft....
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