LB Jonathan Casillas
July 30, 2017
Q: Is this the best shape youíve been in?
A: Training camp just started, you know? I feel good. Yes. So far, so good.
Q: Does being last yearís defensive captain add anything to what you have to do leading into a season?
A: Not really. Just being accountable. Making sure Iím accountable and show others a good example of being accountable and being available and a guy thatís dependable. A guy thatís always running to the ball and doing the right things. So, when Spags [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo], or coach McAdoo, whenever they have an example, they point at me, you know what I mean? Because the captainís doing the right work. The captain from last year is doing it the right way and this is how weíre supposed to do it. Just keeping the culture alive in myself and then hopefully the younger guys can do that as well.
Q: What have you noticed about this rookie class so far and do you like what you see?
A: Yeah, I do. Like you said, we do have a good group of young guys. Weíve got a lot of young safeties coming in, a lot of young DBs. Weíve got some D-lineman as well, some early draft picks in [defensive tackle] Dalvin [Tomlinson] and [defensive end] Avery [Moss]. Theyíve been doing very well. I think theyíve accepted and theyíve adopted our culture and theyíre doing a good job and doing what we want them to do. What Spags had, with the bar that he set, that heís been doing the last few years, theyíve been playing very well up to that.
Q: What is it like to be on the same field as former linebacker Antonio Pierce, who was hired by the team as a coaching intern?
A: Well, heís good because Iím considered one of the older guys on the team, going on my ninth year. But at one point, he was sitting at where I was at, so Iím a younger guy compared to him. Getting somebody like that in the room, whoís not afraid to tell us, as an older linebacker, ĎHey, you couldíve done this a little bit better.í And Iím always open ears. [Player Development Special Assistant] Jessie [Armsteadís] been around too. Jessie is the same way. Jessie will pull me to the side and be like, ĎAh, ĎJCí, I donít know, that might not cut it.í Itís good to have those guys around because sometimes when you are the older guy in the room, some people donít tell you, ĎThat wasnít a good job,í or, ĎYou couldíve done this, or do that better.í So, itís good to have those guys around.
Q: What have been your impressions of linebacker B.J. Goodson so far?
A: Heís doing a really good job. The mike linebacker position is a very difficult position to play. And for a young guy to come in and basically be named the starter on a very good defense, with some really known and integral parts on the backend and the frontend. For him to be the middle, which is the glue, the captain, the pilot of our defense, that says a lot. Heís been doing a really good job. I mean, heís definitely had his mistakes. Iíve had my mistakes playing weakside linebacker. But I think heís doing a really good job and as time progresses, I think weíre going to see him mind expand and also his game expand, as well.
Q: How good can this defense be this year?
A: I think we can be as good as we want to. And I say that because you canít go from what we did last year. Itís a new year Ė similar guys, but not the same. We lost a big piece in [former defensive tackle Johnathan] Hankins and weíve got to have a guy step up with him gone. Weíve got to play really solid on the backend. Our linebackers have to really step up this year and play, if not better, but bigger than weíve ever played since Iíve been here. Thatís just to keep account with all the guys on the frontend. Youíve got JPP [defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul], OV [defensive end Olivier Vernon] and Snacks [defensive tackle Damon Harrison]. Those guys are feared around the league and weíre just trying to play up to their tempo.
Q: How much did you work with Spags over the offseason to improve the defense?
A: A good amount. Spags, I think since his first year to now, I think heís let his guard down a little bit. Heís let us, as the players, kind of dictate to him in what we like to do and what weíre comfortable with. I think the first year, I donít know if that happened too much. In this offseason, Iíve seen it happen more times than not. Especially in training camp. Spags is definitely a guy that, heís willing to listen to players and even the coaches underneath him to get certain things ironed out. Thereís a lot of great offenses out there and all these offenses, they have certain plays to beat out defenses. And sometimes, itís like even though weíre running it a certain way, if this play can expose us or expose or defense, we may have to manipulate it just a little bit. And Spags, he may not have been so open to it two years ago, but this year heís definitely listening and prepared to make some differences, some changes, or what have you.
Q: What would be some of the changes that Spagnuolo made?
A: I canít tell you all that, man. I canít dive off that information. Weíve got to keep that vanilla for the preseason and then, you know. After Dallas, Iíll tell you.
Q: What do you think changed Spagnuoloís philosophy about players having more input?
A: Trust. I think itís just trust. Just like any relationship that you have, over time you allow more things to happen because the trust factorís there.
Q: Do the young players on the team understand what the expectations are for a Giants defense?
A: You know what? Itís still early. I donít think they have a full grasp of it yet. But I think the coaches and also ourselves, as the older guys in the room, we try to show them an example. But I donít think they truly know. Even when I was first here, being a seventh year guy, a Jersey guy, I didnít really know the tradition and how strong it was. I had a feeling. I remember LT [Lawrence Taylor] when I was young. I remember Jessie Armstead when I was young. But I donít remember everybody. All the guys, the Harry Carsons, the George Martins, I didnít know those guys per say and the impact theyíve had and how strong the Giants defense has been for decades. And I donít know if they grasp that yet. I donít know if they can grasp that yet. And I think itís our job and the coachesí job to not only show them the history, but establishing them in what we have going on right now.
Q: Any thoughts on New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich announcing his retirement today?
A: I didnít know that, I didnít know that. Youíve got to love a guy like Ninko. Because maybe half you guys here might even know who he is. But heís had a great career, heís won two Super Bowls in New England. And if Iím not mistaken, early in his career he kind of bounced around a little bit, been cut a couple of times, but when he was on New England, he was uncuttable. You had Chandler Jones on one side and him on the other side, so everybody slides over to Chandler and all of a sudden, Ninkovich has 10 sacks a year. Heís a great teammate to have, heís a Pro Bowl [player]. I was with him for half a year in New England, but Iíve known him for years. Congratulations to him on a great career.
Q: How big are padded practices for defensive players?
A: Oh, theyíre huge. Especially for our interior lineman. I know Snacks has been wanting to get after some guys, but you canít do too much when we donít have pads on. And Iíve been wanting to see him, heís one of the better players in the league. And Dalvin a young guy, canít really say heís done too much because we canít do anything, interior-wise. Now weíre going to see how good Dalvin is and thatís going to be interesting.