Outside Linebackers Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema -- August 23, 2020
Q: With Markus Golden, obviously, we talked about OTAs being virtual was a disadvantage for guys from what they’re used to doing on the field. But he was even further behind because he didn’t get to do the virtual offseason. How far behind did he fall by not being on the team at that point? How quickly has he caught up to guys who did have the virtual meetings?
A: First, it’s been awesome for me. I’ve been a fan of Markus for a long time. Unfortunately, I had to play against him in college, and then saw his career grow and got to know a little bit about him over the last few months. He’s been awesome in the room. His voice, he’s got that personality. He’s been a really nice addition to our room. I think because nobody was allowed on the field, it really wasn’t that far of a catchup factor. MG, really, the thing I appreciate about him, he just wants more and more and more and more. So, I kept feeding it to him. I’ve been able to have some individual meetings as well, so he’s been a real pleasure to be around.
Q: As a former head coach yourself, I’m curious what you think what kind of accountability does it build on a team when a head coach has not only players running for mistakes made but also coaches and coordinators?
A: As you can tell, I probably am not excited about that opportunity. It’s probably good for me in the long run. What it does do is it builds accountability. Without question, everybody has a responsibility on the field. If you don’t do your job, everyone in this program knows the value there is placed on that, walking in the door to the time you walk out. I can’t say it’s something I would carry forward if I’m ever fortunate to be a head coach again, but I definitely see the merit.
Q: What do you think of Cam Brown, a young guy you’re trying to coach up?
A: Every day has been a better day for Cam. Obviously, during the evaluation process going back to the combine, getting a chance to be around him and see him grow, he’s doing some things here he’s never really done before. He played a little bit more in space off of the line of scrimmage. Here at the New York Giants, we put him on the line of scrimmage and doing some things, and he’s been awesome. Every day, he moves forward. Again, he’s another guy that just keeps stacking these days together like everybody in our program. Hopefully, he’ll be able to benefit in the future.
Q: The Giants have two guys in Oshane (Ximines) and Lorenzo (Carter) who they brought in with a lot of potential in the draft and haven’t really produced and put up the numbers I think that anybody would want from them right now. How do you get them to the next level? How do you get a young player who hasn’t necessarily had great success to kind of get to that next step in their career at this point?
A: I think the part that’s been fun to work with those two, and really the room in general, is they’ve bought into everything Joe (Judge) has talked about since day one. As a positional coach, we go in there, we talk about specific things that pertain to outside linebacker play. It’s easy to see that both of them have a lot of talent, a lot of physical, raw skills that they’ve been able to hone and kind of be specific. But now to fit into our scheme, they’re going to work every day. They’re doing their daily grind, they keep stacking days together, and then hopefully the results will start to show up on Sundays the way they envision, the way we envision them, and hopefully everybody alike on the outside world as well.
Q: I just wanted to go back to Cam Brown. It was hard to miss a couple days ago that you weren’t too happy with him. How did he react to that and what can you tell us about that situation on the field?
A: Cam has been awesome to work with. I think because we’re asking him to do some new things or some things he hasn’t had to experience yet, you don’t know what you don’t know, and Cam has bought into that 100 percent. It’s really fun to see him grow, especially this past Friday, to take the things he learned in practice, apply them to what he saw during the game, or as game-like as we can make it. We’re not getting preseason games. Especially for these rookies, these practices are so crucial to their success, their growth, because when you have the preseason, you’re able to adjust and adapt and kind of teach them what it’s like. Because we don’t have that same opportunity with these rookies in particular, you have to put as much stress on them as you physically can, emotionally and physically, in practice. Cam’s been an upward tick on every day. Every day isn’t maybe where you want it, but he works his tail off to get there. He’s been really fun to work with.
Q: Patrick Graham obviously spent a lot of time in New England before you got there, but I’m just curious being with him now, how similar are the schemes he brought here with what you were around the last two years?
A: I can’t speak to Pat and his prior time or any relationship because we didn’t really have one. We met a few times just through our circles, but I had never really been with him on a daily basis. He’s been awesome for me to be around. Just to sponge off him, what he’s talked about, what he’s applied from his time there. But also, Pat’s been in this league for a long time now. Obviously, last year’s experiences as well. It’s just fun to be around him, absorb, process, try to do everything we can as an outside linebackers group and me as a positional coach to try to help him as best we can and hopefully get to a great spot in the end.
Q: My question is more like does this feel familiar? Does it seem similar to what you were around the last two years?
A: I get the comparison and I understand why the question comes, but on the same account, it’s the New York Football Giants. It’s establishing how we do things. It’s not the same scheme, it’s not the same personnel, it’s not the same environment. There’s a lot of similarities that will carry forward. Obviously, everybody will tie it to that. But I think everybody here is trying to establish what Joe wants, defensively what Pat has put in, and we’ll just try to grind it out on a daily basis.
Q: I’m just curious, you mentioned your one on one, your individual time with Markus. I assume you do that with everyone at your position. Specifically with the younger pass rushers, how much do you break down their game and how much is it a work on this, this and this, a checklist of sorts, every practice and every time you get out there with them?
A: Great question. MG, because of the timing of it… During the spring we were able to have one on one Zoom calls. Even though we were meeting as a group, you were able to keep certain guys, by league policy, and work individual time with them. I think any time you’re around players, the run game is kind of a universal thing. How do we play, what do we do, how do we do certain things. But the pass game, in particular pass rush, is very unique to each player. You can’t teach a player who maybe doesn’t feel comfortable with a club rip or a grab and go or a stab and jab or whatever it is. Some guys just feel better in different roles. As a pass rusher, if you don’t have confidence before the ball is snapped, you’re not going to play well at all. It’s been fun. You see Markus on film, what he brings to the table. But each one of these guys has been really good for me to now be around them for a couple of weeks and see what their strengths are. All I try to do, we have a giant tool box sitting there. Everybody’s tool box is different. The more tools we can add for them, the more things we can do. Maybe it’s how they do a certain look, how they place their hands, a countermove. Most natural pass rushers, it’s not their first move, it’s their second move. To build a little bit of a repertoire with each one of those guys on what their strengths, minimize their weaknesses then hopefully having great results on game days.
Q: I’m just curious, I don’t know how much you knew Joe before you got to New England, but when you got there, I was wondering if you remember what your first impressions were of him? Was there anything that kind of stood out when you first got there to be like, ‘Wow, I can see this guy being a head coach’?
A: Yeah, actually the first time I had a chance to shake his hand and sit down with him was at the combine.
Q: This was when you first took the New England job?
A: Yeah. I had talked a little bit with Bill (Belichick), but I hadn’t had a chance to be around the staff. I knew coming people between Joe and I, but we sat down at the combine together and we ended up sitting right by each other at a Patriots function. I began to see and understand what everybody talked about. But then when I got into the building and I saw him get in front of the team, the presence he had, the awareness, the overall football IQ was pretty unique and easy to see. Then to come here now and be around him on a daily basis, I think anybody in our program would tell you that there’s no falseness to it. There’s no just trying to put a certain look. It’s just him being real, and that’s when you truly get a great gauge on people.
Q: Getting to the quarterbacks has been a problem for this team in recent years. Do you think this group can generate a pass rush this season?
A: Appreciate the question. I wasn’t here previous seasons. I’m here now. What we’re going to try to do is put together a plan that allows these guys daily to keep grinding out the details. You can’t have a magic call, you can’t have a magic scheme. It’s a lot on execution. We’ll educate our guys on what the details are. Let’s start off with how we get a call, how we get aligned, how we get into our stance, how we keep our responsibilities and how we react after that. But it’s been a lot of fun to be around these guys. Whatever happened before us, we weren’t a part of. All we can do is try to concentrate on today and keep stacking these days together.
Q: Do you like the talent you have in your group? Do you like the energy and the enthusiasm?
A: I can say from the moment I came on board, to the first time we got a chance to meet with them, a couple of times I was able to run into these guys before COVID hit and you’re able to be around them a little bit, but it was so unusual to get to know them through Zoom calls. As much as you have a perception of reality, there’s nothing like being with someone in person. I know the willingness is there, I know they’ve been able to listen. They’ve been able to, for me, to listen. I’ve learned just as much from them as hopefully they have from me. When you kind of have a common ground there that you’re working together to provide the best opportunity for everybody involved, hopefully good things happen. They’ve been a pleasure in that regard.