New York Giants: Return Of The 3-4 Defense Puts Linebackers At Center Stage

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As the New York Giants continue to build upon their already strengthened offense, their defense is also being fitted perfectly for defensive coordinator James Bettcher. There is reason for excitement if you’re a Giants fan, and why wouldn’t there be?

After a well-executed off season agenda by the front office, you can’t deny that this year’s edition will be a vast improvement over the offensive debacle of 2017.

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I am equally as excited to see our defense return to a primarily 3-4 scheme. My Giants fandom was forged in the 80’s, when our D-linemen ate up blockers allowing the likes of LT, Carl Banks, Harry Carson and Gary Reasons to run wild and wreak havoc.  Back then we ran a 3-4 defensive scheme, and now  Bettcher has brought it back.

Bettcher ran this same scheme in Arizona for the past three seasons, each of which ended with a top 10 defensive ranking. The switch is a big change for a Giants squad that’s been operating out of the 4-3 since before the days of Coughlin. In our new scheme, much like in the 80’s, the linebackers will be expected to be the play-makers on defense — in the run and short passing game.

Let’s take a look at what the most recent upgrades will provide:

Now, I’ll forgive you if you have trouble naming great Giants linebackers of the past decade. Hell, I got a shiny quarter for ya if you can come up with 3 good ones. Hopefully the arrival of Alec Ogletree will buck that trend. The Rams former 1st round pick will man one of the inside linebacker slots and brings a five-year resume that includes 501 tackles and a 2nd team All Pro nod in 2016. Speedy, instinctive, and a natural leader…Ogletree will make an immediate impact.

Watch Brain Baldinger break down Alec Ogletree’s game:

We also figure to see a lot of Olivier Vernon standing up at outside linebacker. After a down year, much of which he spent battling injury, Vernon has a lot on his shoulders as the team’s only proven pass rusher. He’s shown not only elite ability, but also extreme toughness in his two seasons as a Giant.  I don’t doubt him, but I know he can’t be our only source of outside pressure.

Maybe that’s where Lorenzo Carter comes into play. The hyper-athletic 3rd rounder out of Georgia was supposed to be raw, but is already getting good reviews from the rookie mini-camp. At 6-5, 250 lbs. he ran a 4.5 flat 40 at the combine, and that speed shows up on game day. Already a good pass rusher, Carter has impressed with his instincts in defending the run. See in the video below how that versatility helped him in Georgia:

And just for fun, watch Matt Patricia react to him at his pro day:

Carter adds speed, youth and excitement to a linebacking corps that already boasts two Pro Bowlers in Ogletree and Vernon.  If we get quality play from B.J. Goodson at the other inside LB position, for the first time in years we may have our linebackers to thank for a top flight defense in New York.