Safeties/Secondary Coach Dave Merritt Sr.
September 23, 2016
Q: The records are the records. What have you seen from your players as far as getting ready for what we might call a trap game?
A: I said from day one, you come go back to when they came in on Tuesday. These guys were all locked in and focused. The one thing that coach Spags actually talked about this afternoon was the trap game. A team coming in here as a wounded lion. Theyíre 0-2, weíre 2-0. At the end of the day, Keenan Robinson spoke to the group and told the guys, because he was there last year, he said we need to treat this game as if weíre 0-0 starting the season. This is our first game. Weíre hungry, theyíre hungry. Like I said, from Tuesday, all the guys came in focused. I think winning breeds that type of confidence. At the same time, we also have to understand that the trap games are set up out there. This is not one of them. Weíre looking at it as a trap game but the guys are focused and they were focused from day one.
Q: Is this the kind of game where you really have to look at your veteran leadership to send that message?
A: Absolutely. Thatís why Keenan spoke with the group. You look at a guy thatís been in the league for a little bit. For him to say that about them being hungry and weíre hungry as well, thatís what you need. It is the veteran leadership. Thatís one thing he addressed today.
Q: If you had to name your leaders, do you see a lot of guys in here stepping up?
A: I do, I do. The number one guy that Iím going to name is Snacks. This big guy, heís no nonsense. One of the things that he does is hold everyone accountable, coaches, too. To have a guy thatís come in here and going to be forceful, able to be firm when he says it, thatís a good thing. Then you go to the linebacker corps. You go right to our captain, JC (Casillas). Hereís another guy whoís a New Jersey kid himself. The fact that heís able to speak up more. Maybe itís because of the role heís been voted into as a captain but heís another guy thatís stepping up. Heís one of our leaders thatís been firm with the players and coaches as well. Then you go on the back end. In my opinion, and I know heís a young guy, is Janoris Jenkins. One of the things that he does is lead by example. At the same time, I think all the young guys see how hard he plays. A guy like Eli (Apple), for example, is watching this guy practice hard everyday. Theyíre all picking up from his lead.
Q: Two of those players that youíve mentioned were your big free agent acquisitions. How comforting as a coach is that when you bring a guy in and they turn out to be a leader?
A: It is. You never know whether a guy is going to be that voice until you get into the heat of the battle. Itís a pacifier, it really is. To have these guys come here, OV is a guy. Another big name that we signed. He comes in and leads by example. Heís not really going to be the talkative guy, Iím sure you understand that when you interview him. The guys weíve signed here that can step up and are not afraid to speak and say whatís on their mind, itís very comforting.
Q: How would you describe the difference in life and in football and coaching now that you have credible defense again?
A: To describe this defense right now, I think itís just the beginning. If I was to rate where we are off of two games, I would say that the guys are heading in the right direction. The three things that you need to build a championship team, one thing is you have to have the guys playing hard, of course. I think you are seeing that on the field. The guys are all playing hard and theyíre running to the ball. You know what else you have to have, itís commitment. I think each one of these guys that are stepping on the field in between these lines, theyíre committed. Theyíre committed to the calls and they hear the call. They go out and execute it. Theyíre committed to each other each and everyday they come into this building. The Giants have a commitment to each and every one of us and our families. These guys are actually showing it and giving it back to the Giants by their play on the field. The third thing is just the fact of trust. I think the trust factor is built each and every day. These guys, as they go through this season, the ups and downs, the curves and thereís going to be some curveballs thrown at us. Iím just happy to see these guys come together. To go off these first two games, weíve done well on defense. I hope to sustain that the rest of the year.
Q: When I talked to Casillas I thought he made an interesting point that Week 1 you beat a team with a good running game and a good offensive line. Last week it was more the explosive vertical passing attack. To hold both down point-wise, does that tell you something about a defense that did it essentially in different ways in the first two weeks?
A: It does, it does. When you go back to, I hate going back into history but I have to do that in order for us to learn, if you go back to even when we played some of the explosive offenses when we won the championships around here. To be able to stop the run and the pass on any given day, my hatís off to those players in the locker room. A coach can sit here and design the best defense he would like to design but if the players donít execute it, donít trust each other, donít play hard and donít commit to whatever the call is, itís not going to matter. These guys were able to play Dallas the way they played Dallas and their running game. That offensive line is not just good, those guys are great. You have, what, three All-Pros on that offensive line? To have our defensive line stop the rush the way they did, that was excellent. Then of course last week, to play Drew Brees and that explosive passing attack. We all know what happened down in New Orleans the year before. To come up here and get them on our own turf, that was impressive to see the passing game being taken away as well. I told all the guys that I have a party this week at 1 oíclock. You guys are all invited. Iíll get you a ticket if you need a ticket. Thereís a party at MetLife and I tell them that every week. Thereís another party over there. I need all you guys to be available to show up at the party. At the end of the day we have to not look at this team as the Washington Redskins. Theyíre a faceless opponent. Letís go out there and do our job. Understand that each guy has to commit to it, make sure that theyíre playing hard and at the end of the day, you have to trust. Trust each other as well as the coaches that weíre going to put you in the right positions.
Q: What have you seen from DRC and what heís been asked to do this year?
A: DRC is an interesting guy. I say it in this sense: for a young man, if you look at his past and his career, he had a chance to go play nickel in Philly when they signed him. He didnít really take to that too well. Now, to see him take on a role, we asked him to play nickel, we need you to go in the slot positions and for him to just say whatever, he says ĎFamí because we call each other fam. Whatever fam, Iíll do whatever I need to do, my hat is off to the young man. Especially a guy who is 30, 31. For him to be able to accept that there are some other guys that can go and play outside, let me go inside and take care of some of these quick slot receivers, thatís impressive. That speaks to his character.
Q: Does his presence help with that transition between corner and safety?
A: It does. The fact that DRC, again, you look at this guy is 6-foot-1, long arms. For him to be able to play outside on first and second down and then move inside when we go to passing down situations, itís impressive that heís been able to do it. Especially at this stage in his career.
Q: Iím curious of what you would think the challenge is defending three receivers like the Giants have?
A: Try to double them all. See if we can get 12 guys on the field. Our offense, itís going to happen. Itís going to happen and when it clicks, itís going to click. Right now, just talking to buddies on the other squad and being able to come in here and defend our offense, that would be pretty tough. Especially with Shepard playing the way heís been playing. Sterling is doing a great job for us. You know about Odell, but to see that number 80, I forget his name, but to see that guy come back, itíll be a tough task for sure.
Q: What have you seen from your group?
A: Iíve seen guys flying around. I call Nat Ďthe missile.í He runs around and whatever he hits, heís going to blow it up. He is the missile. I see these guys playing fast. I see these guys actually wanting to make sure they get it right every snap. Landon, of course. Landon, in my opinion, is having a heck of a start to his second year. I see speed, quickness and confidence. I see guys actually competing to get to the ball. Thatís what I see.