Whenever a defense is suddenly without two of its starters, it is going to be news. Saying it was “news” when the New York Giants elected to trade Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints and Damn Harrison to the Detroit Lions is something of an understatement.
In his Thursday press conference, defensive coordinator James Bettcher didn’t waste any time in addressing the trades.
Bettcher said, “I’ll start because I know everyone wants to ask about the trades and things that have gone on in the last 48 hours-ish. Those are organizational decisions, and personally, I came here to be a New York Football Giant and this is a special organization, it’s a special place to work, and it’s a special place to play football. Trades happen in-season, they happen in the offseason, they happen various times throughout the course of the year, and under no circumstances any of our players or any of our coaches are ever going to run from anything. We’re going to keep running to it, our guys are going to keep playing hard.”
On Dalvin Tomlinson
Wednesday morning the Giants made the decision to trade starting nose tackle Damon Harrison to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. While the move does, to some extent, free up room under the salary cap, it also opens up a hole on the defensive line for a starting nose tackle. It is expected that second year defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson will step in to that role.
“The great thing about him,” Bettcher said, speaking about Tomlinson, “he still has a lot of football ahead of him in his career and he has a lot of room to grow and become a better player. I love his work ethic. I like how he works in individuals. When you’re here and watching individuals, just watch how well he works. He’s a pro, he’s working on getting better, and he’s very conscious of the things he needs to get better at.
“The thing with Dalvin is he’s an extremely heavy-handed striker, a guy that can punch and separate, a guy that has the ability to displace blockers, and he’s going to get his great fair share of snaps.”
Of course, Bettcher was sure to remind everyone that regardless of who was in at nose tackle, they couldn’t stamp out opponents’ running games by themselves. Offenses can, and will, compensate and look elsewhere for yards.
Bettcher said, “When you have a guy like Dalvin or even a guy like Snacks in the middle, you might get more perimeter runs, some runs that are going sideways to the sideline and stretched, and maybe downhill stuff, and I think Dalvin is going to do a great job in there and I’m excited to watch him play inside and continue to get better.”
On the cornerback position
The Giants had a talented duo of cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple (before he was traded). However, they didn’t perform up to expectations in coverage. Bettcher acknowledged that there were plays where his secondary was out of position, but he also accepted responsibility for his own failures in putting them in position to succeed.
“I don’t think there is one particular route that we’ve struggled with more than another,” he said. “I think there’s been times we’ve covered things really well, and as we can all see on the tapes, there’s times we have either been out of position from a leverage standpoint or I need to give them a better call.”
As with the defensive line, the trade of Eli Apple means opportunities for other players. Bettcher confirmed that B.W. Webb would be getting reps as an outside corner, but also hinted that UDFA rookies Grant Haley and Sean Chandler could get looks as well.
“Him [Haley] and Sean Chandler will both get some snaps inside,” Bettcher said, “I think you’ll also see him probably lined outside a little bit at corner with B.W. (Webb) maybe in the slot a little bit, like he has played. You’re going to see a little mixture of that, but Sean is also going to be in the mix with some of those snaps.”