As the Giants continue to ride a six-game losing streak over a bye week that was made to feel even longer after losing to the Jets, New York Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher is trying not to focus on the negative.
“I think that everyone in the world would say they are sick of losing,” Bettcher said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of being sick of losing. I think Coach Shurmur has made a couple great points to our team, it’s not about being sick of losing, it’s about what are we willing to do to win.”
In his pursuit of winning, Bettcher is tasked with challenging the veterans to perform better and developing the rookies in a way that will allow them to be productive on the field. Because the veterans and rookies alike are to blame for the 289 points allowed this season, which is fourth-worst in the league. The Giants are also ranked 27th in the NFL with 381.7 yards per game allowed.
“I think with vet guys that have played a substantial amount of snaps, you coach those guys maybe not like a rookie because their understanding of conceptual stuff is generally different,” Bettcher said. “Their understanding of maybe being a little more self-aware. A lot of those guys can say, ‘yeah, I messed up because my eyes weren’t right or I didn’t have the right leverage and that’s why I didn’t have success on that down.’ A lot of times it’s reaffirming those things with those guys.”
But when he is not demanding more out of the Giants’ veterans, Bettcher is focused on developing young talent that has under-performed so far this season, including cornerbacks Deandre Baker and Julian Love, and defensive end, B.J. Hill.
Baker, the former Georgia Bulldog, has 38 tackles in 10 games. But the Giants expect more out of their first round draft pick.
“Very similar to some of our other guys that are young players, first, second, third year players, there are some snaps they want back. I think he would be included in that, I want some snaps back for him and he wants them back, too,” Bettcher said.
Though his numbers on the field are not what the Giants expected, Bettcher is encouraged by Baker’s accountability.
“I would worry if we were sitting in the meeting room and he didn’t own a mistake, that’s when I would worry,” Bettcher said. “I don’t worry because he owns whatever the correction needs to be. He’s continuing to work very similar to the rest of our young guys, and we are trying to narrow down to things they need to get better at in the immediate future. We are trying to identify those things and prioritize them.”
Cornerback Julian Love is another player that Bettcher would put in the same category as Baker. The rookie out of Notre Dame has just two tackles in nine games. Bettcher insists that Julian is putting in effort both on the field and in the film room to make improvements.
“The thing that I really like about Julian is you go and watch him take notes,” Bettcher said. “He’s taking notes, he is locked into the meeting room and he has been that way since day one.”
Fourteen-year safety Antoine Bethea has also been working with Love off the field.
“I sit in the DB meeting room a bunch and I hear AB (saying), ‘Hey, Julian you see this, recognize that, you see that, that’s why it’s this’ and they have some good dialogue and conversation,” Bettcher said. “Julian is highly engaged in those conversations and that’s why he will trend himself to a guy that’s going to make a push to have a chance to play and be a guy that helps us.”
Another young play who is continuing to learn is second-year defensive end B.J. Hill. The former N.C. State player has 26 tackles, including nine solo in 10 games. Hill has seen less action since the Giants signed Leonard Williams from the Jets, but Bettcher says that he is still in the rotation and he thinks that the addition of Williams to the roster will only help Hill.
“When Williams came in, that’s a guy from the first game he played he’s made an impact for us and he’s disrupted the line of scrimmage,” Bettcher said. “The other guys in that room, they all have roles. Each and every week, you earn more, or you get less based on each day. That’s a great situation to be in because it’s going push our guys to be better and better.”
Bettcher said that having the veterans and rookies work together towards improvement is the ultimate goal.
“You have some vets who are continuing to work and really trying to help our young players,” Bettcher said. “Our young players who are coming in each day, they are still building their professional process, they’re still building their professional resume, but they are working. They are taking the coaching and you see those guys getting better.”