When you close your eyes and reminisce on New York Giants former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, you probably remember a lot of blitzing and blown coverages. Why? Well, he implemented a 4-3 defense that left the middle of the field completely exposed in hopes that his edge rushers would reach the quarterback in time. Throw in a lack of talent at the linebacker position and the negative thoughts begin to overflow.
The issue – when his defensive ends were playing poorly, the entire team suffered the consequences. His scheme heavily revolved around blitzing and putting pressure on the opposing signal caller, which should, in theory, lead to high sack totals, but also forced the men in coverage to pick up the slack when the trenches were compromised.
His methodology wasn’t all bad, as he saw immense success in the 2016 season, primarily due to a major leap by Landon Collins and solid performances from the defensive line. But once 2017 rolled around and the line began to falter and injuries kicked in, it was a total disaster. Now, this could happen to any defense or scheme, but the major difference between Spags and Bettcher is this: The 3-4 defense doesn’t completely rely on the defensive line, where the most injuries occur, and the linebackers play a more prominent role. In other words, unpredictability is a primary point of the defense.
Bettcher will implement his 3-4 defense that he carried over from the Arizona Cardinals. He helped Chandler Jones rack up 17 total sacks last season, and will be looking to do the same with Olivier Vernon as an outside linebacker.
What’s the main unit on the New York Giants’ defense?
The essential grouping in a 3-4 is the linebacker corps, which the Giants overhauled going into this offseason. Trading for Alec Ogletree, signing Kareem Martin and drafting Lorenzo Carter, will contribute to a physical and forward thinking defense. They will help keep the offense on their toes and learn how to drop back in coverage and become quarterback spies.
In 2017, the Cardinals ranked 11.25 overall in defense – above average. That’s combining points, yards, pass yards, and run yards. That’s the type of expectation and grit that Bettcher brings to the Giants. We have become accustom to the 4-3 defense, a boring, predictable, outdated scheme. The new age is here, and a flexible blend of talent and intelligence will lead the way.
Alec Ogletree stated in regard to Bettcher:
“I mean, yeah, he’s definitely a linebackers coach, for sure,” Ogletree said. “That’s what he started as. So, for us, he definitely puts it on us to lead the group, and we put it on ourselves as well to be that leader and be that dominant voice out there and get everybody ready and set to run the plays. We definitely take that responsibility.”