New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence hates losing, yearns to be great, wants to finish his career as a Giant, and is trying to learn to play the saxophone. Lawrence talked about all of these things and more in an exclusive sit down with Big Blue View this week at Giants training camp.
Listen to it below on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast, or read through my conversation with Lawrence.
Ed: I’m curious, for starters, for me, you know, looking from the outside, it looks like you’re having a really good camp. Looks like you’ve been really impactful. Do you feel like this has been a good, productive camp for you so far?
Dexter: I feel like it has been pretty productive, as I mean, continuing to learn my position and get better. Just understanding what I’m getting from different looks and understanding how to be stronger with my hands and keeping my feet and motor going. So, in that aspect, I feel like I’ve been productive as continuously growing and getting better.
Ed: And that’s a big part of what I wanted to talk to you about. Again, you know, from the outside looking in and I think I would describe it this way. I think a lot of people would describe it this way that, that your first three years have been good, but that maybe there’s more, they haven’t approached great yet. Would you? Would you call that an accurate description of your first three years?
Dexter: Yeah, I think so. Honestly, my goal this year is just, you know, not to, not to hold back and not to be afraid of, you know, being in the limelight, or not being afraid of just going out there and being me having the most fun I could have being dominant, destroying things. And, you know, getting the guys around me to play better.
Ed: Are you saying that maybe you feel like you’ve held back or that you haven’t done some things?
Dexter: I want to say consciously I don’t think I’ve held back. You know, it’s just tapping into a different, you know, being tapping into something more, you know, you never know, you’re limit unless you push it.
Ed: That’s funny, because I was going to ask you about coach Patterson, who I’ve talked to a couple of times, and I’ve talked to some assistant coaches that worked with him. He says, you’re not tapped out unless you think you’re tapped out. Has he talked to you about that and about reaching another level?
Dexter: Yes. So that’s what, so that’s where my mindset has gone. Just knowing that, you know, you don’t know your limit unless you test it. You just gotta go get it and, you know, just continuously get better and continuously grow, continue to just learn. You don’t know everything.
Ed: Right. And talking about Coach Patterson, first and foremost, how glad are you that he’s back in the building?
Dexter: Oh, really happy. You know, just like, from the spring, he, you know, he taught me so much. And, you know, his energy, he got that West Coast energy to him, you know, that just, is also just a great coach, you know, he knows how to get guys going, you know, how to motivate guys. It’s good to have him back.
Ed: And, you know, he admits that he’s not a cookie cutter coach, that he doesn’t coach the way other guys do. And I was, I was told that guys like you, guys like Leonard, to really get the maximum benefit from Coach Pat, you were going to have to have an open mind because he was going to teach you different things in a different way. Has that been the case for you?
Dexter: I think with us two, you know, we’re very coachable people and we listen to what’s being coached and you know, we adapt, we’re good at adapting. So, for us he’s been very helpful just changing our mindset, teaching us how to rush better, teaching us, you know, how to manipulate things a little better. You know, he’s just been nothing but positive for us and you know, we’re happy to have him back in the building.
Ed: Is there something he teaches that that you’ve never been exposed to before?
Dexter: I mean, it’s just he’s he’s very detailed and specific about what he wants and how he wants it to get done. And you know, he he coaches us in a way that it makes us, you know, like believe in him and trust him type of thing and you know, that’s what you want your players to be able to play for you and you know, put your product you showed that you showed where your product from your players.
Ed: And you know the big thing in your game everybody still says, you know, maybe everybody still thinks of run defense first with you. But the advanced statistics would say that you’re a pretty darn good pass rusher, that maybe you just don’t have the sack numbers. Is that is that something you’re conscious of, do you care about that?
Dexter: Yes, but no. You know, for me, I just want to be disruptive and I just want to wreck games. I’m not a number hungry guy. I know if I’m destroying games, I know if I’m doing my job and, you know, getting the guys around me to play that’s that’s how we play best. Numbers will come, that’s what I tell everybody. Don’t ask for ‘em, don’t wish for ‘em, numbers will come if you doing your job at a high level, and you’re forcing things, you know, to just be disrupted, your numbers will come. So I don’t really pay too much attention to.
Ed: When you say destroying games, you’re just talking about beating the guy in front of you?
Dexter: Beating his ass, pretty much, yeah.
Ed: I’m curious, you know, we mentioned Leonard, a little bit. What is it like playing next to that guy? I mean, he’s a little bit. He’s a good player, but he’s also a little different as a human being.
Dexter: Yeah, we hang out a lot. He’s definitely a little different human. He likes to go in the deep waters and swim and stuff like that. But just just being next to him, he brings that charisma. He brings a, I call it white boy crazy. He brings that, you know, that jacked energy and he gets everybody around ready to go. And it’s always matching each other’s energy. You know, he got the high energy or I got the high energy. We try to lead the whole defense in that way.
Ed: I saw him out there during a stretch today. I saw him out there dancing. So I gotta ask you, who’s got better dance moves?
Dexter: Oh, me for sure. Hands down. Hands down. You can ask anybody.
Ed: Hey, different topic, you know, completely off the rails from football. You did an interview with Madelyn Burke during the offseason for Giants.com. And you talked about wanting to learn the saxophone? Did you learn it?
Dexter: It’s still a work in progress. That’s pretty hard. It’s not as easy as it looks. You gotta have a different type of wind for it. But it’s a work in progress.
Ed: So you’re not ready to join the E Street Band and be the next Clarence Clemons?
Dexter: Not yet.
Ed: I’m curious. Saxophone is a pretty classic instrument. Just where do your musical tastes run? Closer to Kadarius Toney stuff, or Brian Daboll’s country stuff?
Dexter: See, I got a whole I got a whole lot of different genres. And my playlists, I can go from country to R&B to hip hop to jazz to, to a little bit of like, rock. I think it just comes from me just, you know, growing up around different, you know, different people, different areas and, you know, adapting to their cultures and listening to what they listen to. I think, for me, I think it’s more of like, I’m enthused, and how, like, different sounds can come together and be so beautiful. And, you know, things like that. So that’s, I think that’s where my where my mind goes,
Ed: How’s your singing?
Dexter: It’s a work in progress.
Ed: There you go. Hey, on a more serious note, it’s been three tough years here. Believe it or not, you’re in your fourth year, you’re on your third head coach. You were 41-3 in college with a national title. How hard is all this losing? How hard is it, you know, to be looking up in the standings all the time?
Dexter: I really hate losing. And, you know, for us, for me, personally, I really just take it as lessons, you know, what’s been built from this house. You know, what’s going to come from this, you know, what is this? What is ultimately God trying to teach us in this. And then, for me, I feel like because I barely lost in high school, barely lost in college, I think it’s just, you know, me understanding that to grind, to never stop working. You know, it’s not going to ever be easy. So, work harder to get what you want.
Ed: Is it something that, now I played on a high school basketball team that went 2-18. And that was not easy. And you know, guys grumble and they have attitudes and, and all that. Is it, is it hard to not get used to the losing?
Dexter: Hell no. I don’t, I don’t, I’m not ever comfortable losing. It’s just, it’s just something that you know, it’s a work in progress. It’s hard to win in this league and to win you, everybody has to know what they’re doing. And for me this year I’m just on everybody. I’m just holding a lot of people accountable and I’m trying to be a better leader, always stemming from me. So that’s kind of been my mindset, going into here, you know, just changing, just changing the culture.
Ed says: More vocal than you’ve been in the past?
Dexter: More vocal, just getting more comfortable. Yes. And more vocal.
Ed: Is that because, you know, you’re, you’re kind of a fixture here, you’ve been here, this is your fourth year?
Dexter: I think it’s just me just getting more comfortable with who I am. And understanding that I am a leader. And you know, and I do set tones, and I do set, you know, the tempo of things.
Ed: Along that line, this is your fourth year [and] the Giants picked up your fifth-year option. We don’t know what the future holds. We talk about cornerstone players and guys to build around. How much would you really like to be one of those cornerstone guys and be here for another four or five, six years and be one of those guys that leads the turnaround here?
Dexter: I want to, I want to end my career as a Giant, I want to forever be a Giant. You know, so that’s what I’m working. You know, that’s, you know, my mindset is just, you know, just grown honestly, to, you know, to I gotta work for what I want, and you know, and earn, you know, keep earning and gaining respect from a lot of people and to do that just gotta work hard, and, you know, show guys that you’re committed and do your job.
Ed: And, you know, I don’t know, we got another minute or two, I was reading some stuff from a story going way back to when you were [being recruited] in college. And there were comparisons to Ndamukong Suh. So it feels like it feels like there’s always been that sort of expectation of greatness for you. So, you know, just going back to where we started in this conversation have you always felt that and do you feel like there’s just so much more for you to accomplish?
Dexter: Yeah, see, me as a person. I don’t feel too much pressure. Like, that’s just me being 100 percent honest. I don’t feel too much pressure because I know how hard I work. I know, what I’m doing is the best I can give and, you know, consciously. So me, it’s just me, you know, just tapping into more of myself and being more conscious of things. I’ve never been a guy to be overwhelmed. I never been a guy to, you know, to doubt myself. None of that. It’s just, you know, just is giving more doing more, a little more. And, you know, so that’s what, that’s where I’ve been, I don’t think me comparing myself to them. I’ve just, you know, I was a young kid, you know, just trying to just say something probably. But honestly, I’ve just tried to be the best Dexter I can be.
Ed: And last thing for you, then I’ll let you go. How is it playing for Wink?
Dexter: It’s great. I really enjoy his mindset that he brings to the defense. I really enjoy his scheme. It’s fun, you know, everybody’s involved, you know, he’s got guys just flying around. And that’s what you want from the defense.