Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher -- August 2, 2019
Opening Statement: I think weíve really had great quality of work. One of the things that weíve really been talking about in the defensive room is there is really no in-between with something thatís right, and something thatís wrong. We talk about making simple better and not making easy things hard. To come out, to be in a good stance, to have your eyes on the right place, and to be able to play fast and hard Ė those are the things that we have to do well. I think our guys have addressed that. I think theyíve come out of meeting rooms, theyíve taken coaching points, theyíve taken it to walk-through, theyíve taken it to individual periods, and theyíve taken it to practice. We are in a really good process right now, and I really like that about this group. I love the veteran leaders that we have at each level of the defense. Not only special players, but (they are) great men. They are guys that are really good mentors to our young players, both in the meeting room, on the field, and in the locker room. Thatís been exciting. Itís really fun to work in an environment where you have some guys who have played the game for a really long time, and you have some young guys who are really just learning both the game, how they need to work, how they need to take care of their bodies, and they are learning the process. They have some people that are around them, to see it and show them how itís done. I think as we try to not only get guys ready for the opener, we are talking about getting guys ready to have great careers as a Giant. I think that impacts that on both of those levels. We just have to continue stacking days. I really like the guys, like the direction, and we just have to keep working.
Q: Everybody talks about the leap players take, the second year in this scheme versus year one. Whatís the leap that you want this defense to take?
A: Not just knowing what to do, but why they are doing it. Itís one thing to say, Ďhereís a huddle call, hereís my job, hereís my responsibility,í but why are we calling it? What are we trying to defend, what are the things that this call is really good against, and what are the weak spots on the call so we can play to some of the weaknesses that we may have in a particular huddle call. Everyone might want to stand up and say every huddle call stops everything on offense, but it doesnít happenó just like guys on offense will tell you there are certain things that a huddle call on offense is not good against what the defense is in. But we need to understand that, understand why we are making those calls, and why we need to be in some of these adjustments. Beyond that, itís the why and what to expect. What are you going to get out of this formation? What are you going to get out of this look? Whatís different this week with this opponent versus the next opponent. Those are certainly things that we have to be able to do in year two to help us be a better defense.
Q: You look at Markus Golden, obviously heís on a prove-it deal this year. How much do you think his familiarity with your defense will help him thrive?
A: The thing Iíll say about Markus is this, Markus doesnít look at this year, and Iíll speak for him and say this, and Iíll speak for him because I know him. This is not a Ďprove-ití for Markus. I think Markus has approached every year as a prove-it for himself. Thatís the kind of player that we have here with him. Heís a guy that loves to work and absolutely loves football. I think that the first thing with him, when youíre coming off a knee injury, you need a year to be able to get back to the type of player you are capable of being Ė and heís at that point now. You see him working, and you see a guy that is laughing and smiling, and having fun playing the game again. I think a year ago he was really frustrated with his body that he wasnít able to play at the level that he expects from himself, and we are at that point now. Right now we just have to do a good job managing his reps. Heís getting better, heís getting in shape, (and) heís sharpening his tools. Like any of the vets that we have, youíre not trying to have to get back to where you were after your injury, but youíre trying to become a better player than you were before the injury. I think thatís really where weíre at with Markus.
Q: You have a lot of young guys, but what they donít have is a lot of NFL game experience. What do they have? What is the other side of that equation, what they lack in game experience they make up in what?
A: Iíll answer that in two parts, because when I look at guys that donít have experience I think about a lot of different things, and Iíve said this to our group. I call plays for the first time, so everybody thatís been something has done it for the first time. You wrote a story for the first time at one point in time, and although some people might have thought that you couldnít do it, you were able to write something that was maybe beyond other peopleís expectations. We will never be limited by expectations of others, whether we are playing our first game or our 100th game in the National Football League. Weíre not going to be limited by expectations. Weíre going to make sure that we are on the same page and that we have great communication so our young players that are playing, and they might be second year players playing their first substantial reps, they might be rookies, they might be third year players, but weíre going to be great communicators so they know what to do before the snap, so when the ball snaps, their eyes tell them what to do and theyíre going to go play fast.
The second part of that, the thing that I think these guys make up for is they are just so eager to take in the information. I think one thing with young guys now is sometimes guys are guarded and they donít want you to know what they donít know, and I respect this group a lot because they have been very open. You look in their notebooks and itís just filled, it really is. There are pages of things and guys are trying to organize their notes, and trying to take heed of some of the veteran advice and listen to their position coaches. To develop young players now in this league, you need to teach them the process first. The process being, how can you take something from the meeting room and take it to walk-through. How can you take it from walk-through to your individual period? How can you take something from individual to team, and then run it full circle? To be able to do that on a Tuesday, on a Wednesday, on a Thursday, day after day for seven months to improve yourself as a player. I think their eagerness to learn, their ability to put their guard down and get coached, and know that itís not about, Coach Shurmur always says, and I think he says it in a great way, ĎItís not about attacking people, itís attacking problems,í and weíre trying to get better.
Q: Dexter Lawrence looks like heís playing on the end. It seems like the 5-technique is his primary spot. Whatís the thinking behind that?
A: Heís a three-position player. He can play the five, he can play nose, he can play three. One of the things that happens, and offenses are creative enough, as a defensive guy weíll give them a little bit of credit, they are going to motion to make you play more than one spot. Theyíre going to make you have to slide the front and move the front. A guy thatís a nose might have to become a three technique, and a guy thatís a three might have to become a nose. To say anymore that a guy is just a nose, youíre going to flip tackles and youíre going to do all that kind of stuff, itís really not feasible with the way the game is right now. You need to be able to do that. I think he is, as we all have seen him running around, thereís not a lot of 300+ (pound) gentlemen who are as athletic as he is and as powerful as he is in the same breath. I think thatís one of the reasons, he has the ability to play three positions.
Q: How challenging is it for Julian Love to be at safety, at nickel, and alternate between first team and second team? What about him allows you to do that with him and not feel like his playing is going to drop off at training camp?
A: I think most, if not all, nickels play a second position. A guy that might be a primary nickel, his second position might be corner, or it might be safety. The last place I worked at, our nickel was also a safety, so thatís usually what comes with the territory with a nickeló thatís not the sole position that they are playing. Thatís also one of the two positions they are going to play, corner nickel or safety nickel. He just happens to be playing some safety right now with it. I think for his development he needs to play behind, as well, because when you play in the slot, youíre involved in a lot of things. You could be involved in a run front at times, youíre going to be involved in a lot of mixed coverages, and by being able to play safety, you understand what the nickel is doing. As well as playing nickel, you have to understand what the safety is doing. Those will go hand-in-hand at times. Heís like the other guys. Heís really eager, he wants to learn, he wants to get better, heís highly engaged, and heís working on figuring out what his process is to be able to learn and be able to make himself a better player. As he continues to do that, like these other young guys, heís going to keep getting better.
Q: You have talked about players who are anxious to learn, but in less than a week youíre going to be playing a game. How interested are you to see, Ďcan we stop the run, can we generate a pass rush,í and things like that?
A: The thing about the NFL is every year is such a new team. Even other places Iíve worked, and here itís the same, youíre going to have new guys who are starters, new guys on your roster, and thatís really what comes with the territory. Thatís an every year thing. Thatís not just a thing thatís specific to this year.
Q: How much does Tae Davisí athleticism kind of set him apart when youíre looking at that middle linebacker spot next to Ogletree?
A: Again, it goes back to the similar conversation with the d-lineman, it goes back to what you see in the NFL now. You see two tight ends and a spread formation out of it, you see one tight end and people trying to get you in space, and you have to tackle in space. You wish you still had it, but the time of the guy that sits in and runs downhill and takes on lead fullbacks 40% of the game or 50% of the game on first or second down, that just doesnít happen anymore. The ability to tackle and move in space, thatís one of Taeís strong suits that he can do, and he does it pretty well. A guy that going into the second year in the scheme, but more importantly, a guy thatís a young linebacker, and a guy that played some safety in college. He isnít a Ďcareer linebacker,í but heís a guy that at one point at time in his career he moved to linebacker, and heís still really learning how to play the position.
Q: What do you think of your pass rush?
A: I think weíll know a lot more as we get real, live, in-game reps. We always try to do a great job in taking care of our quarterbacks and staying off of them. One thing you end up getting, with rushes, you get a lot of, ĎIím there, but are you really there.í A lot of the production as a rusher, or a disrupter, some pass rushers sacks, and some pass rushers is just true disruption getting quarterbacks off of spots, changing sightlines, and a lot of that is really going to come when itís live and you can take the guy down, and you can tackle the guy. Those last two steps, that last flip of your hips, that last bend of your hips or your shoulders, a dip, all of those little things are a big part of determining whether a great initial part of your rush becomes a winó a disruption and a sack.
Q: With the NFL being so different, how do you balance between developing, but also installing your defense?
A: There is a good balance there. Thatís why we spend a lot of time sitting in and determining the order of installation on our defense. We donít just call calls, we donít just put coverages in. There is an order of them. Thereís some progression in the learning so you can hope to take some of schematic stuff off the guys. Earlier on, just like we did in OTAs and phase two, itís a lot about the ĎI.í Itís a lot about my improvement, my fundamentals, my techniques, the things that I need to do to win my box and become a better player. Then as you go, itís how my piece fits to your piece, and (then) weíre able to play together.
Q: Hearing you describe that old school linebacker downhill sounds like Alec Ogletree. What did you make of his first season here? He had five interceptions in pass coverage, but there are stats out there that he gave up quite a few yards in receiving. Can he be on the field in the nickel?
A: Absolutely, I think heíll be on the field in nickel. Everyday he is working to get better. Thatís why some of the vets that we have, I really love them, I do. You see Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) when weíre in a walkthrough period in a great stance with his eyes right. You see Tree (Alec Ogletree) in a great stance with his eyes right. Those are the little pieces, that even when youíre a veteran player, when you know there are things you have to work at and improve at, not only make yourself better, but all of the guys and the young guys around you that are watching how youíre doing what youíre doing. That makes a different to those guys. I think Tree would probably take offense if we called him old (laughter) so I wouldnít say that heís an Ďold player,í but he is a veteran. Iíve been lucky, Iíve been around some unbelievably talented players, but I have never coached any player that is without a deficiency of some sort. Whether you say itís a deficiency, or whether you say itís something the guy has got to get better at, Iíve never been around one of those. There are things that Tree has to get better at, and there are things that all of the other 10 guys heís going to be playing with have to get better at. The thing that makes him unique is that he identifies it. When I see him work, he works at it.
Q: Jake Carlock, he batted down a few passes the other day. What do you like about him and his development?
A: (Heís) a guy that comes in, and has never played the position, a guy that was primarily a safety. He played some linebacker, but he went from safety, to linebacker, to all of a sudden playing on the edge. Heís a really good learner, a great kid, heís working exceptionally hard, and heís falling in line with all of the other rookies that are trying to figure out their process.
Q: How different is Lorenzo Carter year two versus Lorenzo Carter year one?
A: Much more confident. He knows what heís doing, and now heís really trying to learn why heís doing it. Heís also trying to learn, based on some of the looks that he gets, when he can cut it loose as a rusher, and when itís maybe going to be more run game. I see a guy that is a lot more confident and playing a lot faster now.