A veteran, a leader, a teacher, a producer…all of these things ultimately make up New York Giants safety Antoine Bethea, or at least we hope they do.
General manager Dave Gettleman brought in another veteran with experience in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s defense this offseason. The installment of these players will help the younger options adapt to the scheme and the play-style in the NFL. Rookies like DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine and more will all benefit from having guys like Bethea on the field and in the locker room.
The one player that I think will seriously gain is Jabrill Peppers, who was acquired in the trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns. With the level of athleticism and skill Peppers contains, there’s no question he should be a Pro Bowl-level player, and Bethea might be able to help him get there.
Aside from Bethea and Peppers, the Giants also have Special Teams phenom Michael Thomas, a productive player that makes his money on the punt team. Coming off a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018, Thomas knows what it takes to be the best at a specific position.
With so many new faces in the secondary, Thomas surely can’t help teach them all, which is why he’s excited to have Bethea join the group (Giants.com):
â€œWith us bringing in Bethea, that brings a whole lot of leadership in the room,â€ Thomas said. â€œIâ€™m going into Year 8, but Iâ€™m still learning from him. I have a long way to catch him going into Year 14. Heâ€™s a general out there. Heâ€™s vocal. When he speaks, everybody listens.â€
The second-year Giant also praised Peppers for his diversity:
â€œHe played linebacker in college, but heâ€™s probably one of the fastest guys in the room with a track background,â€ Thomas said. â€œHe played at a big-time school (Michigan) and was a first-round pick. Thatâ€™s a guy right there who can step in from Day 1 and knows he can play any position on the field, regardless of the secondary or the front seven.
In Jabrill’s rookie season, the Browns played him at free safety, well out of his natural spot. He struggled but gained essential skills that will now transfer over the Giants and the way they plan to utilize him. Seeing a jump of 22 combines tackles from year 1-to-2 is a significant difference (Sports Reference). Hopefully, Bethea, who racked up 121 combined tackles last season, will help elevate his game.
The influence of veteran experience can’t be overblown.