Making the transition from the 4-3 to 3-4 defensive scheme might end up to be a great move for the New York Giants, but finding the right players for the system will require time. General manager Dave Gettleman traded for former Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree earlier this offseason, allocating roughly $10 million per-year to the six-year veteran.
Ogletree has had tremendous success in the past, primarily as a run-stopping linebacker who manages the defense from the MIC position. He’s a physical and powerful linebacker with the ability to hunt down runners and stop them in their tracks. He’s a perfect fit for the linebacker heavy 3-4 scheme, but he has one glaring weakness. He is terrible in coverage.
In 2017, the Giants were one of the worst teams in the NFL when covering opposing tight ends, and this might be an issue in ’18 as well. Ogletree has already been toyed with by Browns’ David Njoku and Detroit running back Theo Riddick.
Theo Riddick smokes Alec Ogletree for a big gain pic.twitter.com/qxt7NjQlu6
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 17, 2018
The play above is incredibly concerning, as it shows how slow and unable Ogletree is in coverage. The worst part is that he begins the play lined up infront of him, knowing his assignment, where alternatively he would be keeping an eye on the opposing tight end to break into a route.
How can the New York Giants reinforce Alec Ogletree in coverage?
The issue with the 3-4 defense is that it requires consistent blitzes and leaves the secondary to fend for itself. This means that Ogletree will not receive any reinforcements from fellow linebackers, and the safeties will be playing the deep ball and helping out in coverage. Ideally, you want to have at least one LB that can cover, but the Giants have fortified the middle of the field with two run stopping, physical players.
Luckily, it’s only the preseason, and he still has two more weeks to refine his abilities and adapt to James Bettcher’s heavy blitz defense. A lot of developement might be in the cards for Ogletree; if he can’t manage to be a serviceable LB in coverage, the Giants will have to find a way to manage tight ends and running backs through different means.