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“Old as hell” Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wants to lead by example

Giants’ veteran corner talks about his disappointment in the team’s play and his role in the defense

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to be disappointed in the New York Giants’ offense. After a series of offseason investments, they were expected to transform from one of the worst offenses in the league to one of the best.

In hindsight those expectations were wildly ambitions — especially once Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the season.

But more disappointing, and stunning, has been the implosion of the Giants’ defense. One of the best in the league a year ago, they carried the Giants into the post-season for the first time since 2011. With very few changes and another year together, it was expected that they would repeat their performance, if not improve.

Instead, as the Giants’ season has fallen apart, their defense is one of the league’s worst. That they are playing poorly — and the level of effort players are putting forth — isn’t just disappointing the fans and ownership, it is also disappointing other players.

“Only thing I can say that’s disappointing,” said Giants’ cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, “is the lack of wanting to after all that we’ve been through. I’ll take a loss playing hard, flying around, but how we’re losing, nuh uh.”

Ben McAdoo used a team meeting Wednesday for a “brutally honest” film session in which the players and coaches all held themselves, and each other, accountable.

Getting on teammates, however, isn’t DRC’s role on the defense.

“No, no. We got leaders for that,” he said. “We got different kind of leaders. Like I told you, I ain’t no vocal leader. I would never go to a man and just downright get on them like that. I’m all about bringing everybody’s spirits up. Does it need to be said? Yeah, but that’s why there are guys who are appointed in the locker room to do that and for the most part those guys do that.”

“I would tell him to pick it up,” DRC added when asked if he would get in the face of a teammate who was loafing. “I ain’t trying to make no commotion. I’m ain’t trying to go crazy because then he might go crazy back on me and it’s a problem. I just keep it chill.”

So who are the vocal leaders on the defense, the guys who voiced their displeasure on the sidelines?

“Snacks (Damon Harrison), Jonathan Casillas, JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul),” DRC said. “They’ve been guys that have come to the sideline and got after guys. They’re the guys we look to, to do that.“

McAdoo hinted Wednesday at the possibility of line-up changes when the Giants take the field against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s something DRC almost expects.

“Oh yeah, definitely man,” he said. “Whatever the change is, you just got to roll with it. I’ll be prepared for anything. I don’t think I’ll let it take away from my preparedness and still going out there and having fun and still being me. You know what I mean?”

DRC knows there will be change afoot after the season as well, and he also knows that his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy.

“That my job is on the line?” he asked rhetorically. “Hell yeah. I’m old as hell. That’s why I just try to go out there and do what I do, man. But at the end of the day, I just keep on pushing. I know I’m on the line. Older guy, still making a lot of money. You don’t got to tell me twice.”

But as for his role on the team now? He just wants to use his status as being “old as hell” to lead by example.

“I look at myself as one of the veteran guys,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of his role. “I ain’t going to say too much. I’m going to lead by example. I’m going to go out there and try to fly around and be accountable and even if I do make a mistake, own up to it, and be coachable. Just show them that way. I ain’t no vocal guy. I’m not going to just go to a player. I would just say watch me, man. If I’m out there giving everything effort. None of y’all are older than me so I just tell them watch me.“