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LB B.J. Goodson embracing switch to 3-4 defense

Posted Apr 16, 2018

Giants third-year linebacker B.J. Goodson discusses his changing role in the Giants new 3-4 defense:

Sam, Will and Mike have a new friend this season. His name is Mo.

James Bettcher set up the play date over the offseason. The new defensive coordinator brought his 3-4 scheme to the Giants, a changeup from their 4-3 days with four linemen and three linebackers. Now the strongside, weakside and middle linebackers have another man on the inside, known as Mo.

B.J. Goodson is looking to play the part after his promising sophomore season was plagued by injuries, limiting him to just seven starts in seven games. The Giants charged him with making the calls on defense last year, a strong vote of approval for a young player. But now he comes back to a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator and a new “defensive quarterback” in Alec Ogletree, the Rams’ leading leading tackler who was acquired in a trade last month.

“Either or, Mike, Mo, Mo, Mike, they’re kind of the same deal, honestly,” Goodson said Monday as the Giants entered their second week of the voluntary offseason workout program. “But, yeah, it needs a new name. I might change the name. Who knows? I’m cooking it up.”

It is best not to get caught up in labels, anyways.

Bettcher’s 3-4 defense could look different on every down. Being unpredictable is also the goal on the other side of the ball as offensive coordinator Mike Shula carries out Pat Shurmur’s vision of the offense.  

“I'll tell you what,” Bettcher said earlier this month, “I can't tell you today who we're going to be on defense and really what we're going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don't just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program. Until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we're striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we're really going to look like.

“But yeah, there are certainly some 3-4 principles if that's a term we want to use. There are certainly some 4-3 principles if that's a term you want to use. At the end of the day, it's about playing hard with a relentless mindset, playing fast, playing physical and being a smart football team.”

Sign Goodson up.

“Football is football, schemes are schemes, but at the end of the day, all teams play the same coverages,” Goodson said. “And basically it turns into all of the same defenses. Football is football. We’re going to go out and play, and I’m excited about the new faces that I get to play with and embracing them.”

On Ogletree, Goodson said: “All I knew about him was watching film on him versus opponents we were game-prepping on. And as I get to know more and more about him, knowing that he’s from a part of Georgia where I’m familiar with, it’s nice to get to know him.”

Goodson, a South Carolina native and Clemson product, focused on just getting healthy this offseason to “be a better B.J. Goodson” in his third year. While rehabbing, he had plenty of time to chart his course back.

“You have to use it for the future,” said Goodson, who progressed from backup linebacker and valuable special teams player to starting linebacker and leading tackler in his four active seasons at Clemson. “Knowing that when faced with adversity, you know there’s nothing too big that you can’t handle, and being able to still lead and be around the guys, mentally getting better was a big thing for me.”

Goodson will have familiar faces in his position room with linebackers coach Bill McGovern and assistant linebackers coach Rob Leonard, two members of the coaching staff retained by Shurmur. McGovern is entering his third season as the Giants’ linebackers coach. while Leonard last year served as the team’s assistant defensive line coach after originally joining the Giants in 2013 as a defensive assistant.

“We’re looking for B.J. to come back, we’re excited for him,” McGovern said. “Obviously we thought a lot of him last year, but unfortunately he got injured. So, [we’re] excited to see him when he gets back and see how he is after the injury and the rehab.”

He added: “I think the guys, when they get on the field, it’ll work itself out. The guys are going to get out there, they’re going to play, and we brought in Alec for a reason. He’s shown his leadership qualities. We’re excited about B.J. We think he has leadership qualities, and the more leaders and good people we can put in the locker room, we’re excited about.”