Former New York Giants DC James Bettcher gets job with 49ers

New York Giants, James Bettcher

The Pat Shurmur era is fortunately over for the New York Giants, but one name that Giants fans probably remember is getting a new job in the NFC West. James Bettcher was, of course, defensive coordinator in the Shurmur era. Few fans had strong opinions about him when he was brought in, and most were waiting to see how he would do before making strong judgements.

Bettcher, obviously, didn’t do well enough – few areas of the team did under Shurmur. He was fired when the Giants cleaned house to make room for the current staff that was largely picked by Joe Judge.

Now, he’s getting a job as a senior defensive assistant with the 49ers.

He’s not the only one in that former administration to get a job elsewhere after the Giants cleaned house. Pat Shurmur himself is back in the league, too, but had to drop back down to offensive coordinator when moving to the Broncos.

The Giants moved on from Bettcher by acquiring Patrick Graham, who so far has been far more successful than other Giants defensive coordinators over the last few years. Unlike the others, Giants fans were actually hoping that Graham would stay, and one of the team’s first offseason moves was securing a contract extension for him.

Generally, the Giants have been better coached all around as of recent. And we can see that clearly here, with the current defensive coordinator getting a new contract while the former one moves into a defensive assistant position.

New York Giants: Patrick Graham is bringing one significant change to the Giants’ defense

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants are going into 2020 with an entirely new approach, set forth by the new coaching staff they have constructed. New head coach Joe Judge will implement a more fundamentalistic style of coaching and play. His players will refine their technique and increase their tackling efficiency with live drills during practice. With the coronavirus pandemic, there will be plenty of restrictions.

However, the systematic methods the coaching staff will use will change drastically with the new regimen in place. On defense, the Giants hired Patrick Graham to lead their unit. He formally acted as the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2019 and the linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers in 2018. He has experience with Judge in New England many years ago.

On offense, the Giants hired former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. He will likely implement a strong 12-personnel system that relies heavily on running the football and a strong offensive line.

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I want to take a look into Graham’s scheme and how his defense will differ from James Bettcher’s in 2020:

The biggest change will be in coverage, as Graham plays man and press predominantly on defense. Bettcher relied heavily on a zone scheme that forced his cornerbacks into unusual play. Janoris Jenkins historically man marks players, and DeAndre baker is best pressing at the line of scrimmage. The former Giants DC did not allow them to play to their strengths, and Graham will shake that style up significantly.

Only one team played more cover 1 than the Dolphins last year under Graham, and that was the Matt Patricia lead, Detroit Lions, per PFF.

The Dolphins used cover 1 on 491 of their 1116 defensive snaps. The Giants and Patriots lagged closely behind with the fourth-most. Clearly, that is a comfortable scheme for Judge. He brought Patrick in to replicate a similar style to New England with his own twist.

The New York Giants will be blitzing…a lot

Another interesting and exciting fact is the Dolphins blitzed on 35.1% of their snaps last year, which ranked seventh in frequency. The Giants blitzed on just 30%, which was just a tad above the league average. We should expect to see the safeties frequently activated in rushing the passer and delayed blitzes to keep opposing quarterbacks on their feet.

Lastly, Graham rotates between a 3-4 and 4-3 base defense, creating mismatches and adapting to different styles of offensive play. His defense will be a lot more versatile and intricate than Bettcher’s, which could take some time for the defenders to get used to.

New York Giants news, 12/28 – One player the Giants must re-sign for the future

New York Jets, Markus Golden

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

When the New York Giants initially signed linebacker Markus Golden to a one-year, “prove it” deal, they didn’t imagine he would be quite as productive as he was this season. Logging 10.0 sacks after a stat correction, triggering a $1 million incentive, Golden is now the first double-digit sack producer in years for the Giants.

Retaining him should be a priority, as his intensity on the field and positive presence in the locker room are both essential factors that have contributed to the minimal silver linings the Giants have enjoyed this season.

Rounding out Golden’s complete stat-line, his 10.0 sacks only cracks the surface on his overall production. Factor in the 65 combined tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, and 27 QB hits, and you have a justifiable case to keep Golden around for a few more years.

What would a reasonable contract look like?

If the Giants are interested in extending an offer to the former Cardinal, a three-year, $33 million deal seems reasonable, considering his one season of production. The last time he has contributed more than 2.5 sacks in a season was back in the year of 2016.

However, this all depends on the coaching staff and if James Bettcher will be kept for another season. If the New York Giants transition back to a 4-3 scheme, Golden’s services cannot be depended on. Before finalizing any extensions or considering any free agent signings, the Giants need to solve their coaching issues, starting with head coach Pat Shurmur.


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New York Giants: James Bettcher Planning For His Possible Last Game

New York Giants

It’s no secret that the New York Giants might be moving on from defensive coordinator James Bettcher soon. His defenses have been lackluster and cost the Giants a number of games where they could have won had the team not given up one more touchdown or field goal, and Pat Shurmur’s decision to keep faith in Bettcher moving from the 2018 season to the 2019 season hasn’t paid off for either party.

If both coaches are going to keep their jobs, which could be an unlikely prospect whether the team wins or loses based on the reports about the ownership’s unhappiness with the current situation, winning on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles is an absolute must. It’s not exactly turning the season around, but knocking the Eagles out of the playoffs would be an achievement Bettcher and Shurmur can point towards – even if the Giants themselves didn’t come anywhere close to competing for the playoffs this season.

“I think that the first down play in that series is very important, too, because if you give up six on first down, then it’s second and four and your third down doesn’t look good already. It starts with the whole series and the whole drive. Playing well on first down, putting that play in the bank. Go to the second down play, execute, win your matchup, whatever it might be. Then get to the third down and play where it’s at,” Bettcher said about the preparations for the upcoming game.

But the Eagles converting nine out of 21 third downs last time the teams met was a problem for the Giants and one of the factors that led to their overtime battle ending up a loss rather than a victory.

“When you get 12 stops on third down in a game, that’s pretty good. The percentage kind of goes out the window at that point. But we need to go execute on third down, win our matchups on third down, understand how they’re trying to attack us. In the second half, we need to get one or two more third down stops than we got last time,” Bettcher stated.

If the Giants can’t pull out a win on Sunday, it looks very likely that Bettcher and Shurmur will be on the way out come Monday – potentially with Dave Gettleman following closely behind, depending on just how much of a purge the ownership conducts. It certainly makes third down defense more important than it’s ever been in the past for this coaching staff.

New York Giants: Eagles Loss Shows Complete Coaching Failure

New York Giants, James Bettcher

If the New York Giants had a competent coaching staff, they wouldn’t have lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s as simple as that.

The first half of the game told a very different story from the second. Offense didn’t come too often for either side early on but the Giants did manage to pull away and a well-rested Eli Manning looked a bit more like his old self, connecting with Darius Slayton for multiple big plays and helping the Giants to build up the lead they’d take into the half.

And then the second half happened, and the Eagles started working their way back.

Unlike the Giants, the Eagles didn’t find themselves out coached and overmatched going into the second half. They produced more offense after adjusting their game plan, and it didn’t seem like the Giants had much of a counter to it. The secondary hadn’t given up points in the first quarter, and they only gave up three points in the second quarter – in the third and fourth, however, Carson Wentz started to pick the defense apart and there was little the Giants could do.

At least, there was little they could do with the coaching staff on hand. It’s easy to just say that the players aren’t talented and that the loss falls on their shoulders for not closing out the game well and finishing the job. While some of the blame does fall on them, though, it’s clear that the Giants can be a competitive team when their pieces are used correctly.

The defense did hold the Eagles to three points earlier in the game, after all. Their failure to adapt and to continue the good performance, which only required them to hold on to  a decent sized lead. That nearly happened, but in a somewhat typical fashion, the Giants just couldn’t hold on through the end of the fourth quarter and things ended up going to overtime.

It was Zach Ertz that had the winning touchdown. A player that the Giants failed to game plan against in the second half, who helped turn around the fates of the Eagles in the offensive department.

The pieces were all there for the Giants to put on a good performance, even when it came to defending. This was practically demonstrated in the earlier part of the game.

But while the Eagles staff moved around their proverbial chess pieces and adjusted at halftime, and during the second half itself, James Bettcher and his defense failed to compensate. There were failures on offense, of course, as the Giants couldn’t extend their lead for the entire second half. But the ones on defense were more glaring. They directly cost the team the game.

There possibly hasn’t been a better argument yet than this game, when it comes to the reasons why the Giants should have new coordinators next season. Really, though, the two win record the Giants possess right now shows that, while James Bettcher’s defense is a problem that needs to be solved before next season, the team would likely be better off with a larger reset than just firing the coordinators.

New York Giants news, 11/28 – Is Julian Love the future at free safety?

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants’ mentality towards the 2019 season was to develop their youth and provide them with essential live-action experience. Rookies, such has DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine, Dexter Lawrence, and Oshane Ximines, have all been utilized frequently this season on defense.

However, Julian Love, cornerback out of Notre Dame, has been absent the entire season, as a precaution for his transition from cornerback to free safety. The Giants have kept him protected from live-action, allowing him to learn from Antoine Bethea and progress mentality within the position. In week 12, though, he was given the green light to enjoy some time on the field with the first team.

Love earned 55% of defensive snaps against the Chicago Bears, coming down with an interception on an errant Mitchell Trubisky throw. He finished the day with an 80.1 grade, according to PFF. He did not allow a reception in coverage during his 42 snaps, which is stellar, considering how porous Bethea has been in coverage this season.

Bethea is currently the 24th ranked safety, per PFF. His 71.9 rating tells the story in regards to his coverage abilities, but his 79.8 grade against the run is what has made him effective at times. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has utilized him closer to the line of scrimmage in recent weeks to supplement his weak coverage skills. He recorded an interception on the first play of the game against the Dallas Cowboys in week 9, lined up about five yards off the LOS.

I expect to see Love in an expanded role moving forward, as the New York Giants seem ready to instill their confidence in the rookie defensive back. He has undoubtedly earned the opportunity to see more reps in coverage, and his development should be a priority for head coach Pat Shurmur and James Bettcher.


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New York Giants: James Bettcher Needs to be Fired

New York Giants, James Bettcher

The New York Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL once again. They sit at 2-9, tied for the second-worst record in the league. They have issues all over – coaching, playcalling, and just pure talent – but perhaps the biggest issue is something that has been a concern for multiple years now – the defense. The Giants hired their current defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, during the offseason in 2018. Since taking over, he has made very little progress on a group that was already significantly below average. It is time for the Giants to pull the plug on the Bettcher experiment, and here’s why:

Why James Bettcher Needs to be Fired

The lack of development in the youth

The Giants are a young team. Four of the team’s eleven starters on defense are in either their first or second year. Another four are utility players who occasionally see the field. One commonality is present for all of them though – little to no success.

The player who has perhaps struggled the most in Bettcher’s defense is Corner Back Deandre Baker, a first-round pick out of Georgia in last April’s draft. Baker has allowed 40 receptions for more than 600 yards this season and surrendered 6 touchdowns. All of those numbers are among not only the worst for rookies, but they are near the bottom of all NFL players.

Struggles that bad brings into question if the coaching has been doing their part. Baker admitted a few weeks ago that it hasn’t. Following a 37-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9, Baker said to the media that he still doesn’t understand the playbook or the way the defense runs. More than halfway through his rookie season, Baker was still struggling to get a grasp on his assignments. That is entirely on Bettcher, who is in charge of making sure his players are prepared to play each week.

The constant playing down to the opponent

A theme that has been constant for Bettcher and his troops is the consistent playing down to their opponent. The Giants are allowing a whopping 377.5 yards per game, the sixth-most of any team this season. Those struggles have not come against the best offensive teams though. They have failed to find success even against offenses that are near the bottom in the league.

There are currently five teams in the NFL averaging less than 300 yards per game on offense. The Giants have played three of those teams, and have lost to two of them. Those teams are the crosstown rival Jets, who stand at 4-7, and the underwhelming Chicago Bears.

To put into perspective how bad the Giants have been, the Jets have been one of the worst teams on offense this season. They are scoring just 18 points per game and recording 262.1 yards per game. Against the Giants though, they scored 34 points and totaled 294 total yards. Even against one of the worst units in the league, the Giants failed to find any success.

The same was against the Bears this past Sunday. Chicago has been averaging 17.1 points per contest this year, the fifth-worst in football. They are also posting only 269.3 yards per game, the fourth-worst of all teams. Like the Jets though, they found success against the Giants. They recorded 335 total yards, resulting in 19 points. Another strike on Bettcher.

The need for a change

As a whole, the Giants need to make a lot of changes if they wish to become a competitive football team again anytime soon. They have reached the postseason once in the past eight seasons and for the most part, it has been greatly due to poor coaching.

The Giants need to clean the house this offseason and start a new era. If Head Coach Pat Shurmur is to be fired soon, which is quite likely, Bettcher should be expecting the same ending. He has made absolutely zero progress on a defense that was already one of the worst when he arrived.

New York Giants news, 11/12 – Why Pat Shurmur isn’t going anywhere, James Bettcher, more

New York Giants, James Bettcher

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants are close to reaching a tipping point. Not only with the fan-base, but with upper management as well. Owner John Mara was seen with his head down, storming towards the locker room with an angered face stretched across his mouth after the Giants’ abysmal loss to the Jets on Sunday afternoon.

However, his anger has been seen many times before, and many times nothing came to fruition. Nobody was fired, nobody was put on the hot-seat, but Mara still managed to throw a few chairs around in his suite. The reality of the situation is that head coach Pat Shurmur is not in line to be fired.

Shurmur has leverage over Mara at this point, and you can thank rookie quarterback Daniel Jones for that. In two of his last three games, Jones has logged over 300 yards passing, four touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Those numbers, especially after factoring in the lack of offensive line support and dismal pass-protection from Saquon Barkley, really stand out.

Mainly, Jones’ performance and development this season will save Shurmur’s job, and rightfully so. Despite the poor time management and decision making from Shurmur, he has done a stellar job helping Jones through his progression as an NFL player. Every week Jones seems to improve, and while his awareness/fumbling issue is a real problem, it’s something that can be solved with experience.

Where does DC James Bettcher stand?

Factor in the plethora of rookies on the field (DeAndre Baker, Dexter Lawrence, Oshane Ximines, Corey Ballentine, Ryan Connelly, etc.), and you can conclude that maybe, just maybe, Bettcher isn’t on the hook for the poor defensive performances this season.

The New York Giants will enter free agency next offseason with an estimated $80 million in cap space, which will be allocated primarily towards the defense. My primary worry is that Bettcher will be seen as the scapegoat for this lost campaign. He’s been forced to dial back his blitzing packages at the expense of a porous secondary, which is his bread and butter. It’s time to wake up and realize that the Giants are in year two of a full rebuild, and expecting them to compete is unrealistic. However, coaching mistakes are unacceptable, and Shurmur has proven he cannot be trusted in that facet.


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New York Giants: Changes That Need To Be Made

The New York Giants are 2-7 to start the 2019 NFL season and the knives are out for heads and changes. Many believe a head coaching change is in order, and if Pat Shurmur surveys this mess of a season, his offensive and defensive coordinators may not.

In fact, they should not.

In my weekly podcast with blogger Craig Santucci of, we discuss not only our disappointment and surprise at the team’s performance (much of it scheme-related) but what we’d like to see management do to correct the issues.



New York Giants see Leonard Williams as ‘a good fit’

The New York Giants are pleased to have defensive lineman Leonard Williams in the fold. General manager Dave Gettleman came out from wherever he was hiding to speak to columnist Michael Eisen about what Williams brings to his roster and locker room.

“It gives us a really strong inside defensive tackle rotation,” Gettleman said. “We’re very happy with the progress that B.J. Hill is making. We’re happy with Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson. We’re very happy with our defensive tackle group, but you’re always looking to get better. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Defensive tackles line up closer to the quarterback than defensive ends.”

Gettleman believes that Williams will be part of the cadre of players he considers his core as he rebuilds this roster.

“We gave up a three and a five. Our goal is to sign him long-term. He’s only 25-years-old. And obviously talented. He’s a piece you can build around.”

The price may seem a bit high for some, but when it comes down to brass tacks, does anyone think the Giants can get a better player than Williams with one of those picks?

“When you’re building your team, especially in the offseason, you count on guys to be available,” Gettleman said. “When you get into a situation where you can’t count on a guy, how do you plan? The best ability sometimes is availability. Leonard has been available his whole career. We just think that he has plenty of upside, he’s athletic, he can run.

“The other thing we love about him is he plays strong, he plays as powerful. He’s a really good athlete. He chases the ball all over the place. He’s running. Especially when your linebackers can corral those guys and they make them stop and futz around, and you get these big ol’ hog mollies coming from behind, you’re going to get some balls out. That’s another thing about Leonard that really makes him special.”

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is excited to have a player of Williams’ caliber in his unit.

“I do believe that this will be a good fit for him,” said Bettcher. “I think that he’s a guy that when you just keep watching more, obviously we watched quite a bit of his tape from the Jets, and I think I said this a couple weeks ago, sometimes there’s more to rushing the passer than just—we all want the sack number, we all want the quarterback hit number, but there’s something to getting a guy off the spot on the inside and making the quarterback lower his vision and have to move left or right. Whether that counts as a pressure or a quarterback hit or not, you see him doing that on tape. I’m excited for him to do that with us, and I think our interior D-linemen are excited to have him with them, too, and those guys have been working well and have been having a lot of great conversations together.”

The Giants expect Williams to pay immediate dividends and are planning to play him quite a bit on Monday nigh against Dallas.