Standing in front of the media for the first time this season, New York Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell reminisced about a saying he had a year ago. Each player on his defense was a 'tool' he was able to put inside his 'tool box.' The metaphor was just another of the defensive coordinator's many sayings, similar to loving the 'big butts' on his defensive line.
Yet this one had a little more truth than most. Actually, following an offseason that saw the signings of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Robert Ayers, Walter Thurmond III and more, that tool box may be overflowing.
"I definitely think those tools allow us to do a lot more different things than we have done in the past," Fewell said. "We will definitely find out in fall camp. I was very excited about what we were able to install, some of the things we were able to do, the information they retained and executed at a high level.
"So, yeah, it will be fun. I think it will be a lot of fun."
The players taking the field for Fewell seem to be justifying that saying. The defense is almost as noticeable being heard, than seen. Even when the team breaks the huddle, a WWE-like 'Wooo' yell is let out before assuming their positions.
The originator of the chant? Free-agent signee Jameel McClain, who slid over from his strong side linebacker position to fill the void at middle linebacker left by Jon Beason.
"He has good leadership skills, very good communication," Fewell said. "(Linebackers coach) Jim Hermann will be able to tell you that in the meeting room (McClain and Beason) are constantly talking to each other. On the field they're doing a great job of communicating."
While McClain represents one new face on the linebacking unit, the secondary has been entirely revamped. Of the starting back end that took the field for the majority of last year, just Prince Amukamara and Antrel Rolle return.
Rodgers-Cromartie is the team's new No. 1 corner, Thurmond is in the slot and Stevie Brown regains his starting safety position following the release. After years of preaching defensive line, New York appears to have turned its attention to the secondary.
"There's some new energy, different blood," Fewell said. "Some different speeds and so far they have gelled very well together."
But arguably the most important 'tool' for Fewell isn't new. It's his once shiny hammer that has suddenly gone dull.
Since breaking out with 16.5 sacks his second year in the league, Jason Pierre-Paul has managed only 8.5 since. The 25-year-old has let his mouth run rampant this offseason, boasting claims of 'shutting people up' and 'returning to the JPP of old.' Fewell hopes his walk matches his talk.
"JPP is an exceptional talent," Fewell said. "When you have a person who has an exceptional talent on your football team you want him to play at the highest level he can possibly play at.
"How important is that? It's important for him to be the best he can be which allows us to do more things and allows our team to be really good."