Antrel Rolle: Defense Needs to Get on the Same Page Moving Forward
Giants safety Antrel Rolle didn’t do a very good job of hiding his disappointment when it was pointed out to him that for the second year in a row, the Giants defense finished near the bottom of the league.
“I take a lot of pride in our defenses and what we bring to the table to present, and a lot of times you can get caught up with numbers in the NFL as far as ranking and things like that,” he said.
But then he allowed the obvious, that at times this year the Giants defense was either very good or very bad, a trend that drove head coach Tom Coughlin crazy and one which Rolle said needs to be corrected.
Rolle, who said he planned to speak with Coughlin to share some feedback on how to fix what has hurt the defense, initially didn’t want to go into specifics. But then he began to open up into what he viewed as some of the problems the unit has faced this season.
“The main focus point is trying to find that focus area where you’re playing on a more consistent basis, doing the things you’re taught to do and making the plays when the opportunities present themselves and just being a better defense all the way around,” he said. “Having more fight, have a lot more attitude in our play – I think that’s going to play a huge part.
“And more importantly, understanding the defense and all the ins and outs – not just your assignment per say just understanding the entire defense. I think that played a huge role in a lot of big plays that happened against us this year also.”
Rolle, who said that he believes the Giants have enough quality players in the locker room to turn things around, said he doesn’t think that players were doing more gambling within the schemes this year, but strongly hinted that there might have been instances where all 11 guys maybe didn’t understand the entire concept of a scheme and that led to some freelancing that in turn backfired on them.
“In football, everything is X’s and O’s. If you play within those X’s and O’s, more times than not, you’ll be ok,” he said. “Sometimes you’re required to play outside of the box. If you see something, go get it, but it all has to be within the defense. You never want to go out there and leave another person hanging because you might see something.
“You have to play within the defense and more importantly, just understand what’s being asked of you on a specific play.”
To illustrate his point, Rolle pointed to himself and the roles he’s been asked to play over the last two seasons as the slot corner, safety and as a pseudo linebacker.
“Myself, playing the safety position and playing multiple roles within this defense, it’s allowed me to understand what the linemen are doing, what the lienbackers are doing, what the safeties are doing.
“I just feel like everyone needs to be on that same page, understanding where that help is going to be, and just try to understand the game to the fullest extent, whether it’s doing more film study or just being on the same page with the defense and having that chemistry.”
A perfect example of what Rolle spoke about as far as everyone being on the same page so that the dominoes could fall into place was the interception by safety Stevie Brown against the Eagles.
On first glance, the ball appeared to simply be overthrown, but in reality, there was a sequence of events that made the play possible, starting with an effective blitz that pressured quarterback Michael Vick into throwing the ball early, and continuing with linebacker Jacquian Williams forcing the tight end to take an outside release that left him out of position to make a play on the ball.
And not to be forgotten is the fact that Brown made the correct read on the play and got himself into the position for the interception, coming up with the ball and the big return yardage as well.
“Ultimately, this is a team sport and on defense you need all 11 clicking, not just one guy,” Rolle said. “It sounds easy to say, ‘Oh just go out there and do your job and everyone will be successful,’ but that’s just not how it works.
“Sometimes you have to play outside of the box and play beyond the X’s and O’s of the defense. I think at times we were exceptional in doing that, but like I said, we were up and down during the course of this year, more inconsistent than anything. We have to find our way – read our keys, find our passion and, more importantly, and just attack for the love of the game on a weekly basis, not just bi-weekly or whatever the case might be.”