Making the transition from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4 is difficult but sometimes necessary. For the New York Giants, it made complete sense given their roster and defensive stars. Utilizing their strongest units in a 3-4 would ultimately be more effective, but that doesn’t mean additions weren’t made to the team.
General manager Dave Gettleman reassured new defensive coordinator James Bettcher that his defense would acquire all of the necessary pieces to achieve success. In 2017, the defense ranked in the bottom half of the league in every single statistic: passing yards, rushing yards, points allowed…You name it.
Bettcher is here to turn things around, and with a rejuvenated linebacker corps, something the Giants haven’t had in years, the defense seems to be on an upward trend. But let’s take a look at why he will make such an impact and what players will benefit the most.
Prediction: Giants’ OLB Olivier Vernon will lead the team in sacks
Bettcher helped Chandler Jones makes the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. He led the league in sacks with 17 last season and Vernon will be looking to do the same. There’s no doubt that Vernon has been one of the most disruptive defenders in regard to putting pressure on the quarterback, but his sack totals just aren’t there. In two years with the Giants he has just 15 sacks.
As an outside linebacker, the Giants will be able to utilize his strength and speed off the edge in a more unique way. They will plug in three big men on the defensive line: Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, and likely B.J. Hill. They will require two offensive lineman to stop them, and that’s where the linebackers come in to play. Vernon will use his big men as stunts, as they take up space and open up gaps to shoot through. I would also expect to see Landon Collins itching at the line of scrimmage to throw the offense off. Bettcher’s defense in Arizona blitzed nearly 37% of the time, well above the league average.
Alec Ogletree will also play a big role, as he will be the primary MIC linebacker, giving instructions to his teammates and focusing on stopping the run. He’s an athletic and physically gifted athlete that should be a great addition for a linebacker heavy Bettcher defense.
But why is Bettcher really the best defensive coordinator for the Giants:
From my perspective, it seems as if Big Blue is trying to create a fast paced, play-making machine on both sides of the ball. Units that have the ability to create something out of nothing and can make a big play at any moment. With the defense, they want to keep the offense on the field as much as possible, and utilizing the blitz increases the chances of a turnover. This puts the offense in a better position and allows the defense to rest and stat fresh.
By drafting Saquon Barkley, the offense increases the probability of achieving a first-down, and if you watched any game in 2017, you’d know that there wasn’t many of those. It’s all about keeping the team fresh and not-fatigued, as the primary downfall for the defense the past two seasons was the over-usage of the players and ultimate injuries that were sustained. By blitzing heavily, they can turn the ball over and force the opposing team to make mistakes. That’s why Bettcher is a massive upgrade over Steve Spagnuolo on the defense.
Spags was still a great coach, don’t get me wrong, but a change needed to be made.