LB Jonathan Casillas
August 4, 2016
Q: What can you tell about the defense at this point from the practices?
A: You know, it's so early, with all of us together. All of us getting all the schemes at one time; it's so early to predict anything or to see how we are. It's just good to have everybody out there flying around. Snacks, the 54, those are great players and number 20, he's doing amazing things on the outside. It's just finally good to be playing some football with the unit.
Q: Has anyone passed your litmus test to this point?
A: Well we're at the initial stages right now. We're forming those adhesive bonds right now on the back end. We're creating those, we're learning the details about each position in this defense. The new guys got a little bit of a way to go, but that's what we're on right now. We're learning, we're building together, we're learning how to work with each other right now; and I think we're doing a good job at it. The more and more days that we stack together; training camp, these days kind of run one on the other. The better days that we stack up, the better we'll be.
Q: With the linebackers rotating a lot, can you get a sense of where the depth charts stands?
A: Not really. We've got a good group of guys and when I say good, I mean great. As in a whole bunch of experience. Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard, they've played a lot of football in other places. Me and J.T came in last year, Brinkley came in last year. We were veteran guys coming in, and you got Mark and Devon Kennard and young stud B.J. Goodson. It's a lot of depth there, and we're all trying to figure out where exactly we're going to be at. Everybody is trying to learn the different positions, so when Spags is using different personnel groups, we can all fit the mold.
Q: Where do you think you'll fit into that?
A: Wherever I'm needed. I played a little MIKE last year, I played WILL last year, I played the buck-nickel linebacker last year. I'm a veteran guy, I feel like I have a good grasp of the defense, so whatever position they want me to play, I'll play it. I'm ready to do it and I'm willing to do it.
Q: What kind of challenges come from a defense when you don't have a three down middle linebacker?
A: It puts a lot on the linebacker group. I feel like the linebacker group in general, you might not put too much responsibility on one person per say. Having the middle linebacker, letís go back. Letís say Beason, Beason was the middle linebacker since he was here. When Beason went down and he had some injuries, it was kind of like okay, McClain was there and when I came, and Unga. It puts a lot on the other guys. So there is really not one guy per say, but it puts a lot on the guys. I feel like the room that we have, the amount of character that we have in that room is outstanding and I feel like we're all capable of handling it.
Q: Have you experienced that in your other teams?
A: A little bit. A couple of years ago in New Orleans, Vilma had a suspension, and we had to kind of figure out what was going on then. Like I said, it just puts a lot on the other guys. Which is, if you're a professional, you come to work every day. If the coach asks you to do a little extra, I mean thatís not that big of a deal. You have to approach it the right way. You have to be in your books, you have to be studying and you have to review. It's like a syllabus, every semester. It's like you study the easy stuff, the introduction stuff, the prerequisite stuff in the beginning, but in the end you still have to come back to the stuff that you did in the beginning.
Q: How do you react to the defensive acquisitions?
A: You got to be excited about it. I've played against Leon when we were in the Big10; Michigan-Wisconsin guy. He played a lot of football here in the NFL. I feel like we're doing a good job in bringing in the right guys. I don't know him like that, but his body of work, speaks for itself. I think we're trying to do everything we can to be a successful defense.
Q: Are you saying that this isn't the 32nd ranked defense anymore?
A: Only time will tell with that. We definitely donít have that feeling. I feel like the way we are approaching work, and the way we are attacking every day like we want to be No.1. Statistically of course last year, we still have to live with that on our names, but we're trying to rectify that and I feel like upstairs, they did a good job of bringing the right guys. We just got to make sure that we keep that bond and keep that going and keep getting better every day.
Q: Are you sick of hearing that the defense was last in the league last season?
A: It is what it is. You got to be a pro. We were out there; I was out there. I was out there on the third-downs; I was out there on the two minutes. It's tough to watch sometimes. We weren't as good as we should have been I felt like. I feel like honestly; I think we let Coughlin down. It was a tough year, our offense did what they were supposed to do in a lot of games, and defense didnít pull through when we were supposed to in a lot of games. Some games we played well, some games at the end of the game, we didnít do what we were supposed to do. That's us, we got to take it, it's myself, Spags, all the linebackers, the d-linemen, the new guys coming in. We all got to wear that, and we're here to rectify that.
Q: How much of that is a reminder, how much is that motivation, and how much does Spags remind you of that to be better?
A: Every day, we watch film on last yearís films. All that we have is last yearís film. Sometimes it doesn't look like we wanted it to look, but thatís the motivation. We're all men, we're all prideful human beings and this game is recorded by everybody. It's recorded by other teams, the GMs, you guys and the fans. We want to put a good product out there for ourselves, for our team, for our families. It's tough to swallow when that number is on your back. You wear that number 32, that tough. Like I said we're all grown men and we're all responsible and hungry human beings, and we want to do better and we will do better.
Q: When you're watching tape is an actual number brought up, 32nd?
A: It's like the elephant in the room. It's kind of hard not to say, every now and again. If we feel like we are being content in anyway, the number will get said by somebody in some type of way.
Q: Do you feel as a unit, that that's part of the reason Coughlin isn't here anymore?
A: I wouldn't say that. That was more of a personal response. You know, me being a veteran and understanding how things work. In New York, you guys are tough, you kind of beat us up, but it comes with the territory. We haven't had- and I say we as in the Giants organization- we rolled off a couple 6-10 seasons in a row. Missing the playoffs, and the demand is high here, thatís the bar that Coughlin set - Coughlin set that bar. He's got a couple of rings under his belt, and we have to keep that tradition. Anything under that, and itís an underachievement.