Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
June 13, 2018
Starting back in April, I think we sat in as coaches and defensively, you start to try to formulate what your vision is for how you want things to go. And I stood here, same place back then and talked about what we were hoping to accomplish during the offseason was to build a mindset in our defensive room. And that doesnít happen unless players buy in, players believe. That doesnít happen unless guys are willing to come and be here and be present when itís voluntary. And thatís one thing I can say about our guys here, is our players have had their hands in the pile, theyíve been working extremely hard. Youíll ask me probably about multiple guys and the common theme that Iím going to say about all these guys is theyíve been working their butts off. Theyíve been working extremely hard and weíve asked a lot of them as theyíve been here. Both from a mental standpoint, and really, from an effort standpoint on the field. Itís building that, as Iíve said it before, that relentless mindset of how weíre going to work in the classroom, how weíre going to work outside the building, how weíre going to work in a walkthrough period at practice and how weíre going to take that over to team periods in practice. And Iíve loved that about our guys and I think we made some great progress to this point. I think all of us, I think everyone thatís a Giants fan, everyone in our building, weíre all excited to get to training camp and put some pads on and play some real football. So, with that, any questions that you have.
Q: How do you feel about the pass rush? Where do you think some of that will come from?
A: I think some of that will just come as we get into it. Finding what some of the strengths of the guys that we have on the field and trying to put those guys in the best possible position. OV [defensive end Olivier Vernon], we know is a dynamic guy. A guy that can rush from different angles, a guy that you can move around and put in different matchups. And heís embraced everything that weíve done to this point. Iíve loved working with him and I think heís making some great progress, not just in this scheme, but I think as Iíve looked at him as a player, heís sharpening his tools right now. Some of the other guys that I think can give us some impact would be guys that have a chance to win one-on-one matchups, or our guys that we can bring from different angles. And at times, if we have to, change who the fourth rusher is. At times maybe bring five or six. Whatever we would need to do.
Q: How do you feel about your three linemen up front, the two young guys and Damon Harrison in the middle?
A: Yeah, from a young guysí standpoint, I think B.J.ís (Hill) really coming along. Iím really excited with where heís at right now. Again, another guy excited to get his pads on, excited to see how we play in the run game when we get to training camp and have some padded practices. We know itís going to start with the run game and if weíre going to be good in the run game, itís going to start with those interior guys up front. All three of those guys that you mentioned have done a great job for us and I think [defensive end] Kerry Wynn has had a really, really good offseason and excited to see him in pads. [Defensive end] Josh [Mauro], [defensive tackle A.J.] Francis, the list can go on,[defensive tackle] Robert [Thomas]. Iím going to leave guys out if I keep going. But Iíll say this: Iím excited about where that group is at right now, but more importantly Iím excited about putting some pads on and seeing where weíre really at.
Q: Do defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson have pass rush skills in their game?
A: I do think so. I do think so. And one of the things when we drafted B.J., that was part of us selecting him because we thought he has a potential to be a three-down player. Whether thatís a middle push guy, whether thatís a guy that can beat some guards and create some disruption for either edge players, or edge pressure guys. Dalvinís the same kind of player. Has some slipperiness to him, has the ability to get on edges. Excited to get to Ė again, I keep saying that, but Iím anxious to get to training camp to really see where some of thatís at. But I do expect those guys to be able to help us.
Q: Looking through the middle of the defense, with defensive tackle Damon Harrison, linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Landon Collins, how does that stack up and how important is it?
A: You just said three Pro Bowl players that are potential All Pros that I think all three of those guys can still play at the highest levels of their careers. Shoot, thatís one of the reasons you want to run this defense and have a chance to coach this defense, is the first and last guy you said when you looked at who was here, and guys that are playmakers. Snacks [Harrison] being a guy that can win Ė we went and looked initially, all the one-on-ones that he had in the run game, and there wasnít anyone that blocked him one-on-one in the run game. And I think what heíll find and what weíll find is weíll be able to get him some one-on-ones. Whether thatís matched up on a center, on a guard, weíll be able to get him some one-on-ones in the run game. And Alex has done an outstanding job. Heís growing into the leadership role of this defense. And you know, that always happens over time, especially when youíre putting a new system in because everyoneís really worried about their wheelhouse, their box, their responsibility and all that other stuff comes when we get to training camp and we start playing for real.
Q: What is the difference between the defensive pressure of your defense versus others?
A: I think the thing that we focus on, however and whenever weíre coming, is that itís about beating your man. If thereís anything that we focus on and talk about, itís about lining up over the guy youíre going to play against. And you might be moving down to that guy to rush against him. You might be a safety blitzing and on a back, you might be a safety on a tackle. Thereís going to be different guys in different situations that are going to have one-on-ones. As much as you talk about one-on-ones on the perimeter in the pass game, covering your man, thereís other guys that have to win too to help those guys out. And if weíre going to be any good as a pressure team, weíre going to have to win some of those one-on-ones inside, not just outside on the perimeter.
Q: Are you putting somewhat more responsibility on the players, saying we are going to put you here, and now itís up to you?
A: Well, I think thatís the game, though. I think the game is our players win games in this league. And I love that about these guys, is they havenít shied away from that. They want an opportunity to be one-on-one with someone. And you have to want that and you have to relish that opportunity. And I think thatís what the game is, especially with the way this league has kind of developed and grown, where everything is a lot more horizontal. Formations are more horizontal, people are more spread out, where it doesnít matter if youíre a zone team or a man team, thereís plays in space that you have to make that are one-on-one plays. And I think a little bit of that relates to how the league is going, and a little bit of that is personal philosophy.
Q: What stands out about defensive back Curtis Riley?
A: Curtis is a guy that, we all know heís played corner, so heís got really great feet and hips and range. And the thing Iím probably most proud of him about is how heís picked it up playing safety because thatís a change, when you go from playing outside, to go inside. And some of the checks and the communication and one minute youíre in the post, the next minute youíre down, or youíre playing in the half field, or youíre blitzing off the edge and some of the different duties that our safeties have to handle here. Heís done a really nice job with that. So, Iím excited for him, getting to training camp just like all these guys, and heís competing his butt off with a group of guys that Iíve really seen grow over these last two months.
Q: What kind of impact has cornerback William Gay made off the field?
A: A proís pro. He is a proís pro. Everything that when we talked about having Will join us, anyone that you talk to, loves his work ethic, loves the seriousness and the professional mentality that he brings to the room. He is going to ask great questions, going to be very engaged, has done a great job with some of our younger players. And [taught] some of our guys that are three- and four-year players, about how to have longevity in this league and play at a high level. He knows what a great defense looks like from the inside and weíre excited to have him here working with us.
Q: What is your impression of running back Saquon Barkley?
A: Heís a special player. Special player. Guy that, any single down, is going to create a lot of matchup nightmares for coordinators in this league and players in this league.
Q: Are you glad that you donít have to defend Barkley?
A: Yeah, no question.