Giants’ Coordinators Graham, Garrett Discuss Ivy League Connection

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

When the New York Giants hired Joe Judge to be their head coach in January, many felt it was a risk. Judge was a longtime assistant in New England under Bill Belichick but had never been a head man anywhere in his 37 years on Earth.

That is why Judge and the Giants decided to stock the coaching ranks with veteran faces. They kept special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert but filled the other roles with familiar, accomplished faces from the outside.

The offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for the past decade. The Giants know him well and in turn, he knows them well. Garrett also played for Big Blue as a backup quarterback to Kerry Collins from 2000-2003.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham worked with Judge in New England and also had a stint with the Giants as their defensive line coach under Ben McAdoo a few years back. What many don’t know is that both men began their football journeys as players in the Ivy League. It is a bond that both men are building on.

Graham was a defensive lineman at Yale in the early 2000s. By admission, he wasn’t much of a player but knew of Garrett, the former Princeton QB, and his accomplishments. Ivy Leaguers stick together.

Garrett, 54, was a star at Princeton in the 1980s, going undrafted in 1989. His  15-year odyssey took him from New Orleans to the World League of American Football to the CFL before landing back in the NFL. Before his time with the Giants as a player, Garrett won two Super Bowl rings as Troy Aikman’s backup in Dallas.

As a coach, Garrett began his career as the Dolphins’ quarterback coach in the mid 2000s under Nick Saban in Miami. He soon moved onto Dallas where he became the offensive coordinator and then head coach. He told reporters on Tuesday about his respect for Graham.

“In regards to Patrick, just a great experience for me getting to know him. Obviously, I’ve known him from afar,” said Garrett. “Different people who have been around him have great respect for him. In the time we’ve been together, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and how smart of a football guy he is, the different experiences that he’s had, and the ability to work together. When you’re a coordinator, often times you have to work together with the other coordinator to help get the practice to function the way you want it to function and how you can compete against each other. But also work together to put your units in the best situation you can. He’s been a real joy to work with right now despite the fact that he’s a Yale guy.”

With the Giants, Garrett is on the same page with Graham, asking players to be more aware and disciplined. Graham is dressing fundamentals while Garrett said “tolerate” is not a word in a coaches’s vocabulary.

Why the New York Giants’ defense could struggle in 2020

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants have made it a priority to build around youth, especially on defense where they had seven rookies starting at one point in 2019. While this is good for the overhauling of the roster and establishment of a new regimen, the Giants haven’t been able to rely on any sort of consistency.

After the 2019 season, the Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, and several coaches. The defense had shown signs of life at times under Bettcher, but a heavy zone scheme played against their player’s strengths.

Bettcher utilized a very versatile and intricate system, and incumbent defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will bring a mesh of different concepts.

When asked about his schematic beliefs, Graham gave a simple answer: “Yes.”

Former Giant, Avery Moss, stated that Bettcher’s scheme was one of the most difficult he’s ever been a part of. Graham’s simply makes sense and offers a more siplisitic approach.

How will the New York Giants operate on defense?

Graham will look to be multiple with his system and defense, utilizing 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses. The diversity Graham promotes should create an adaptive defense, which can change based on the opponent. That’s the ultimate goal with any defense, changing the style of play to fit the strengths of the opposing offense. Whether they have a strong passing game, a strong running game, or both, the goal is for the Giants’ defense to hold up and bend but not break.

Often than not, the Giants’ defense was steamrolled in 2019, mainly due to a lack of experience and talent at nearly every position.

However, installing an intricate defense will not be an easy feat. The Giants will need time for their young players to adapt and develop within the system that Graham implements. That is why I believe the defense will struggle in 2020, especially without the significant reps during the preseason available. They will transition from training camp directly into the regular season, which will hurt the progression of the team and likely create confusion on both sides of the ball with new systems.

However, with a strong coaching staff in place, the Giants can hopefully put their team in a position of success. The 2020 campaign was always going to be problematic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing it as a rebuilding year with the installment of new schematics makes the most sense, so I wouldn’t anticipate the Giants being a well-rounded team in the first year of coaching overhaul.

EXTRA:

Graham was quietly excited about interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams, mentioning his versatility.

He was also keen to mention Dexter Lawrence’s size and how excited he is to get him active on defense.

 

New York Giants: Markus Golden talks return to North Jersey

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants placed the unrestricted free agent tender on linebacker Markus Golden in April. After going unsigned through July 22, Golden can only play for the Giants this season, and he has reported to training camp. He’ll make roughly $4.1 million in the 2020 NFL season.

Golden feels “good” about returning to North Jersey (quotes per Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

“I feel good about being back. It’s a good place…At the end of the day, I love playing ball.”

After going unsigned for the bulk of the offseason, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post reported that Golden was “motivated” by his free agency failing to gain traction.

Golden feels that if people don’t know his game by now they’re “not worth proving it to.”

“If you don’t know what I can do by now, you’re not worth proving it to.”

Golden says he plays football for his family and “to win.”

“I play the game for my family. I play the game to win.”

The Giants signed Golden to a one-year deal last offseason. He played off the edge and started 16 games for the Giants. Golden totaled 72 combined tackles, 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hits. For his career, the Missouri product has totaled 191 combined tackles, 29 sacks and 69 quarterback hits.

Among the new faces in the team’s edge rotation is Kyler Fackrell, who the Giants signed to a one-year, $4.6 million deal in free agency. The former Green Bay Packers pass rusher is a season removed from totaling 10.5 sacks and played under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in 2018 (Graham was the Packers inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator in 2018).

The Giants selected Penn State’s Cam Brown with the 183rd pick and Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin with the 218th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They also have third-year player Lorenzo Carter and second-year player Oshane Ximines returning. Carter and Ximines totaled a combined 70 tackles and nine sacks in 2019.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, and Saquon Barkley Speak With Media

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Training camp is here for the New York Giants and with that comes the first official player interviews of the 2020 NFL season. New head coach Joe Judge was the first to speak with the media, doing so on Wednesday. You can read those quotes here.

Yesterday, Daniel Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Blake Martinez spoke with the media. Today, it was Sterling Shepard, Leonard Williams, and Saquon Barkley’s turns to speak. The three players each completed ten-minute interviews via Zoom today. Here are the highlights:

Sterling Shepard:

Sterling Shepard is the longest-tenured player on the New York Giants’ roster. Sterling was drafted by the Giants in 2016 and has played a prominent role in the team’s offense ever since. Could 2020 be the year the Shepard gets himself a Captain’s Badge? Shepard said he “be happy to wear that badge and take that role” if the team votes him a captain but whether he gets it or not, he will “find a way to lead” in “whichever role” they have him in.

“(I will) just set a good example for the young guys and kind of teach them about some of the different rivalries that we have and how important those games are to the New York Giants as an organization.” – Sterling Shepard via Giants.com

Shepard also expressed excitement for the Giants’ new offensive scheme, coached by Jason Garrett. Sterling noted that “it’s an offense that utilizes everyone’s skill set.” The fifth-year slot receiver also gave some insight into Joe Judge’s virtual offseason program: “When we were going through the OTA period on the Zoom calls, the coaches would have some trivia questions for us, so we did this Kahoot! challenge to kind of get guys going and understanding the history of the organization.”

Saquon Barkley:

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley spoke with the media today and gave some insight to his offseason. Barkley considers the Giants’ current regime and roster to be “a fresh new start,” explaining that this is a team of young players who “are learning every single day, on the offensive side, and on the defensive side. Learning a new scheme and system and trying to focus on the little things to get better every single day.”

Saquon made it clear that head coach Joe Judge is instilling a new culture for the Giants:

“The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right. That’s something that coach Judge and all the coaches have made a focal point for us in the short time that we have been here. That’s what we try to attack every single day and try to get better every single day.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com

Barkley also discussed his teammate and quarterback, Daniel Jones, stating that he is “definitely excited for DJ.” Barkley said that they have grown closer and that they have been hanging out and working together.

Certainly, the most exciting part of Saquon Barkley’s media session came when he discussed his expectations for himself in the upcoming season. Barkley is only focused on improving, despite being one of the best running backs in the league already:

“What I want to seem from myself is just growth,” he said. “I feel like I have been saying this answer so much in my first two years. I’m really focused on trying to get better in every area of my game. I feel like I have so much more room to continue to grow and there is so much I can continue to add to my game. I would say some big focal points are pass pro(tection), in between the tackles, outside the tackles, catching the ball, ball security. Every single day try to focus and try to get better in every area of my game. I am a big stickler when it comes to stuff like that. Definitely when our coaches sat down, they really have us focused on the details and all the little things matter. That’s the focus and where I want to improve my game, which I guess you could say is everything.” – Saquon Barkley via Giants.com

Leonard Williams:

The Giants’ newly acquired defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, also spoke to the media today. Williams was acquired in the middle of the 2019 season via trade in what has been a controversial and polarizing move amongst the fanbase. The Giants placed the franchise tag on Leonard Williams this offseason after the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal.

Williams discussed this, saying he thinks “it’s always in the player’s interest to get a long-term deal, but that’s something that worked itself out between my agents and the organization.” Leonard said he is not disappointed that there was no deal agreed upon, he is simply “looking at it as an opportunity.”

But Williams also made it clear that he is ” just happy to be here, play with this team again, and learn about the guys that I’ve been with since last year.”

The media asked Leonard Williams about his injury. The disruptive defensive lineman showed up to training camp with a hamstring injury and was placed on the non-football injury list. When asked about it, here is what Leonard Williams had to say:

We can’t really talk about injuries. If somebody wants to get more information on that, you might have to bring it up with Coach (Joe) Judge or someone else on the team. I’m definitely making strides on it and doing the best that I can to get out there with my teammates. – Leonard Williams via Giants.com

When asked about learning that new defensive scheme that Saquon Barkley mentioned earlier, Leonard Williams referred to new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham as a “genius.” Williams said he loves the new scheme and that he loves working with the team’s new defensive line coach, Sean Spencer.

Overall, the Giants’ three young stars sound excited about the upcoming 2020 NFL season. The players are optimistic about their new coaching staff and seem focused on improving after a disappointing 2019 season.

New York Giants: Blake Martinez details how he will impact the defense

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants added several new faces to their defense in the offseason, former Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez among the most notable. New York and Martinez agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal in free agency.

Martinez, 26, finished with 155 combined tackles, three sacks, and one interception last season. For his career, the Stanford product has totaled 512 combined tackles, 10 sacks, and three interceptions.

The Giants are learning a new defense under first-year head coach Joe Judge, which will be administered by new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. They’ve been doing as such virtually this offseason due to COVID-19 restrictions.

How Blake Martinez intends to help the New York Giants:

Regarding his new Giants teammates, Martinez said on Thursday he wants to “make it seem like we’ve been friends for the last six months” at training camp (quotes are courtesy of tweets by Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

Martinez has familiarity with Graham as the latter was the Packers inside linebackers coach and run game coordinator in 2018. Martinez has said that Graham is “one of the smartest coaches” he has ever been around (quotes per Giants.com’s Michael Eisen).

“He’s probably one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever been around,” Martinez said. “Just his ability to get you ready within four to five days. Every single week my third year when he was my inside linebacker coach, I went into the games on Sunday feeling like I knew exactly what plays were going to happen and exactly what I had to do within our scheme. It just made each game so easy to play. That was the biggest thing I got from him throughout that year and got me so excited to be able to work with him again, obviously, coming up again this season.”

Martinez will spearhead an inside linebacker unit that includes David Mayo, who re-signed with the Giants on a three-year deal in the offseason, second-year player Ryan Connelly and seventh-round draft picks T.J. Brunson and Tae Crowder.

Martinez says he wants to be the “rock” of the Giants defense and thinks the team will be “in a good spot” if they make prudent decisions from a health standpoint.

New York Giants: Pass rusher Markus Golden reports to camp

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The New York Giants placed the unrestricted free agent tender on edge Markus Golden on April 27. On July 22 the deadline passed for Golden to sign with another NFL team, meaning he could only suit up for the Giants this season.

According to Art Stapleton of The Record, Golden has reported to the team’s training camp to begin his entry process.

Stapleton tweets out the timeline for Golden to return to the field, which includes testing and quarantining for COVID-19.

Golden will make roughly $4.2 million this season.

Golden enters his second season with the Giants. He inked a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason and led the team in sacks (10). Golden started 16 games while totaling 72 combined tackles, 27 quarterback hits and one fumble returned for a touchdown.

Giants new edge rotation

Golden, 29, joins an edge rotation with some new faces, as well as some returning players on rookie deals.

The Giants signed former Green Bay Packers pass rusher Kyler Fackrell to a one-year, $4.6 million deal in free agency. Fackrell is a season removed from recording 10.5 sacks. General manager Dave Gettleman selected two edge players on day three of the 2020 NFL Draft: Penn State’s Cam Brown (183) and Minnesota’s Carter Coughlin (218).

Third-year player Lorenzo Carter and second-year player Oshane Ximines will return for the 2020 season. The two outside linebackers recorded a combined 70 tackles and nine sacks last season.

The Giants defense will be administered by new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, previously of the Miami Dolphins. Graham was the Giants defensive line coach from 2016-17. Graham is expected to assume play-calling duties under new head coach Joe Judge.

Golden was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 58th selection in the 2015 NFL Draft out of the University of Missouri. Across 62 NFL games, 40 of which have been starts, Golden has totaled 191 combined tackles, 29 sacks and 69 quarterback hits.

New York Giants: Rag-Tag Team Of Pass-Rushers Could Be Dangerous In 2020

The New York Giants‘ defense does not have a single top-tier pass-rusher. Instead, the Giants have a rag-tag group of pass-rushers and a blitz-heavy defensive scheme to generate pressure. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps in 2019 with Patrick Graham running the defense. The Giants are expected to run a similar defensive scheme in 2020.

New York will use its scheme to make up for its lack of EDGE talent. The Gmen do have a few talented pass-rushers on their roster, but not a proven singular game-changing pass-rusher. But the Giants might not need that. The group of underrated pass-rushers that the Giants have assembled could be dangerous for opposing offenses this season.

New York Giants: James Bradberry The Defense’s X-Factor

New York Giants, James Bradberry

Over the past two years, the New York Giants have made it a priority to strengthen their secondary. The Giants drafted three defensive backs in the 2019 NFL Draft and three more in the 2020 NFL Draft. On top of that, New York made a splash signing on a cornerback in the 2020 free agency period.

This offseason the New York Giants signed cornerback James Bradberry to a three-year, $43.5 million deal. Bradberry is a 26-year-old corner out of Samford who spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Brabderry’s next three NFL seasons are slated to be played with the Giants. Over the course of his time with the Gmen, James Bradberry will be the X-factor of the team’s defense.

Why James Bradberry Is So Important

The New York Giants have a brand new coaching staff heading into the 2020 NFL season. New head coach Joe Judge hired Patrick Graham to be his defensive coordinator. The Giants will have a brand new defensive scheme to learn and implement this season:

Graham had a great defensive scheme in place. The two major play calls of the Miami defense were blitzing and man to man coverage. Graham was very clever with his blitzing packages, using a variety of linebacker and defensive back blitzes. In Miami, Graham would also send in delayed blitzes to really disturb an offense. This was not just done in between the gaps; the blitzes came from different spots on the field. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). The Dolphins ran man to man coverage 50% of the time in the 2019 season and would often show blitz and drop back into coverage. This was a great strategy in the Graham defense, keeping opposing offenses on their toes because of the constant blitzing formations. – Jack Quartararo of ESM

How successful the Giants are in executing this new man-coverage-heavy defensive scheme largely depends upon James Bradberry. As the team’s new number one cornerback, Bradberry’s performance in man-coverage will largely determine the success of the team’s secondary.

James Bradberry Stats and Highlights

In Carolina, Bradberry was used as a true number one cornerback. He followed the opposing team’s best wide receivers and shadowed them for the majority of games. In the NFC South, Brabderry went up against some of the best wide receiver competition in the entire league. Here’s how he fared:

James Brabderry consistently got the better of his opponents in 2019. In the Giants’ new man-coverage defensive scheme, he will shadow the likes of Amari Cooper and Terry McLaurin. Will he continue to be the top dog in 2020?

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: What Should Be Expected Of Lorenzo Carter in 2020?

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants have a major weak spot on defense. The Giants have invested heavily to build up their defensive line and their secondary. They have even invested to improve their linebacker corps. However, the edge rusher position has not been prioritized as much.

The Giants have drafted a couple of mid-round edge rushers and shopped in the bargain-bin during free agency. This could be because of the Giants’ defensive scheme. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham runs a blitz-heavy defense that generates pressure through the scheme, rather than through the players.

The defensive scheme could explain the lack of a top-tier edge rusher on the Giants’ roster. But of the edge rushers on the Giants, what can we expect? In particular, what should be expected of their 2018 third-round draft pick Lorenzo Carter?

Sophomore Regression

Lorenzo Carter was a solid player during his 2018 rookie season. The former Georgia Bulldog looked promising in his limited playing time. Carter played just 40% of the team’s defensive snaps. When he was on the field, though, Carter was impressive. In 441 snaps, Lorenzo Carter totaled 4 sacks, 19 pressures, and 43 combined tackles.

Lorenzo Carter followed up his rookie with only 4.5 sacks in 723 snaps in 2019 (65%). His pressure rate of 59% plummeted to 29% as a sophomore as he posted only 23 pressures. Giants fans anticipated a breakout season from Carter in 2019 after a promising display as a rookie. Fans believed an expanded role would lead to better production. Carter’s expanded role did not lead to a better season, though.

An Improvement In Year Three?

After a disappointing 2019 season, what will 2020 have in store for Lorenzo Carter? With the key addition of Kyler Fackrell and the impressive play of Oshane Ximines in 2019, Carter could see his role decrease. The Giants might now view Carter as a specific rotational pass-rusher. He performed well in 2018 on 40% of the defense’s snaps, so the Giants could play him in that capacity in 2019 and hope that he plays better in a more refined pass-rushing role.

The Giants could also look to change Carter’s role entirely. Lorenzo has proven to be pretty good in coverage for an edge rusher. His lanky build and excellent athleticism allow Carter to cover ground and create problems in coverage.

Lorenzo Carter was actually more of a coverage linebacker in college, but he was also an efficient pass-rusher at Georgia. This is similar to Vikings’ star linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr is a weakside linebacker that is also an efficient pass-rusher, but his athleticism and versatility allow him to play in coverage. The Giants could look to use Lorenzo Carter in a similar fashion and see if he continues to thrive in coverage as a linebacker.