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New York Giants Notes: Time To Talk Defense

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Amazing! A couple of impressive victories and I go from reading about the end of Tom Coughlin's coaching career to seeing New York Giants and 'Super Bowl' in the same sentence.

Nice, but waaaaaaaaay to early for that stuff. I will, however, agree with New York Daily News columnist Tim Smith's assertion that it will be the defense that will make or break this team the rest of the season.

If the Giants make it to the playoffs this year, and if they can manage to win a championship, they will do it with the defense leading the way. And if they make it to the playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl, they may well point to the performances the defense had against Chicago and Houston as the turning point for this season. Like good pitching in baseball, defense dominates the playoffs and wins championships.

After back-to-back dominant defensive performances, the Giants are No. 1 in defense in the NFL. It's still early, but the defense seems to have found itself, which is going to be bad news for the rest of the NFC East.

"If I was one of our offensive opponents (looking at film of the last two games), I'd be scared ----less,"' said safety Antrel Rolle.

The Giants now have the league's No. 1 ranked defense, surrendering only 244.6 yards per game. Rolle has an explanation.

"It took time for us to understand the system and trust the roles and trust the coaches," said Rolle, who publicly criticized the team for a lack of leadership after the loss to the Colts. "I'm not saying that in a negative way, but we're all new here. We're all in this together. We really didn't know what to expect from Perry Fewell. You hear a lot of great things about him. Then the first game goes pretty well, the second game doesn't go so well and you really don't know what to expect. You can't put the blame on coaches, the coaches can only do so much. It's up to the players to play the game."

Maybe we should just change this notebook to the 'Antrel Rolle edition.' Here is another Rolle quote -- from a third publication -- discussing how this Giants team seems to be enjoying each other.

"It just doesn't consist of winning," safety Rolle said. "It consists of practice, it consists of meeting times, guys in the locker room, gelling with each other, joking with each other. Just making sure you never really work a day in your life. That's what it feels like right now. It doesn't feel like we're coming to work. It feels like we're coming here to execute something, and having a good time doing it."

Dave Tollefson was asked about the change in the Giants' fortunes from the beginning of the season, and had a great quote. It echoed Rolle's thoughts about the team atmosphere.

"Isn't that life in general?" he said. "It's the ebb and flow of a season. There was an early storm, for sure. We got our early hurricane, in hurricane season, but with the guys in this locker room we've been around too long to turn on the freak-out mode. We knew the only way we were going to fix it was out on that field, and I feel as a team, and as a group of men, we're happy. We're playing for each other and things are going well."

Defensive tackle Chris Canty said the Giants will not look past the 1-4 Detroit Lions, this weekend's opponent. He said, forget this 'trap game' stuff.

"I've been in the NFL six years and I don't know what that means," Canty said. "We give every opponent their due and we're going to enjoy the (Houston) win and then we're going to come in here (Tuesday) and get started on the Detroit Lions. They're going to present some challenges to our defense. They put 44 points on the board (vs. St. Louis Sunday)."

Canty and many of the other Giants have been giving up their normal Tuesday off day, and the results have been obvious.

"We’ve had guys that have been in on Tuesday since Day One. I mean, Eli is in here on Tuesday always and always has been. So if guys want to study with him or watch tape with him, they’re in here with him. Some of the defensive guys – you notice how the defensive backs will get together and come in. There’s a lot of that that goes on and it’s good because it’s unannounced. It’s not for anybody’s story the next day – that’s not what it’s about. It’s about guys wanting to do a better job in their profession," Coughlin said.

"Prepare, practice, work hard, focus, understand the opponent, understand what we’re asking you to do. Prioritize what needs to be done in order to be effective. Go spend extra time in the classroom, which, whenever we play someone of the nature of Houston, for example, that is someone we don’t know all that well, we stress to them that because we don’t know the opponent, you’ve got to put them under the microscope, you’ve really got to do a good job.

"You’ve got to spend the extra time studying them and I feel like the evidence is pretty much there."

After the last two weeks, and the way the Giants defense is currently playing, that is hard to argue with.