Coaches

David Merritt, Sr.
Secondary Coach/Safeties

Biography

David Merritt is in his 14th season on the Giants’ coaching staff and his 12th as the team’s secondary coach/safeties. He is the team’s longest-tenured coach.

Merritt’s safeties were important contributors to the Giants’ much-improved defense in 2016.

Second-year pro Landon Collins, who has started every game since his arrival in 2015, was named first-team All-Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl after leading the team in tackles for the second consecutive season, with 125 (100 solo). He also had five interceptions, four sacks, and 13 passes defensed. Collins is the only player in NFL history to have 100 or more solo tackles, and at least 2.0 sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defensed. His 125 tackles were the most by a safety in Giants history. Collins was a two-time NFC Defensive Player of the Week and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Month in November.

David Merritt is in his 14th season on the Giants’ coaching staff and his 12th as the team’s secondary coach/safeties. He is the team’s longest-tenured coach.

Merritt’s safeties were important contributors to the Giants’ much-improved defense in 2016.

Second-year pro Landon Collins, who has started every game since his arrival in 2015, was named first-team All-Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl after leading the team in tackles for the second consecutive season, with 125 (100 solo). He also had five interceptions, four sacks, and 13 passes defensed. Collins is the only player in NFL history to have 100 or more solo tackles, and at least 2.0 sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defensed. His 125 tackles were the most by a safety in Giants history. Collins was a two-time NFC Defensive Player of the Week and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Month in November.

For the second year in a row, a rookie under Merritt’s tutelage became a starter. Andrew Adams, a free agent from Connecticut, was signed from the practice squad on Sept. 24, and played in the last 14 games, starting the last 13 at free safety. He finished the season with 45 tackles (31 solo), five passes defensed, and 1 interception.

In 2015, Collins, the Giants’ second-round draft choice was the team’s first defensive rookie to start all 16 games since tackle Barry Cofield in 2006, and was the first Giants rookie safety to start every game. Collins led the Giants with 108 tackles (80 solo). He also had nine passes defensed, and 1 interception.

 The previous season, safeties Antrel Rolle and Quintin Demps ranked second and fifth, respectively, on the Giants in tackles. Rolle started every game at strong safety, while Demps (nine) and Stevie Brown (seven) split the starts at free safety. Demps led the team with four interceptions.

In 2013, Rolle led the Giants in tackles for the third straight season, finishing with 106 (85 solo). He was named AP second-team All-Pro and played in his third Pro Bowl. Merritt overcame the preseason loss of Brown (knee surgery) and molded a unit that helped the Giants finish eighth in the NFL in total defense and 10th against the pass.

The previous year, Rolle and Brown were two of the top performers on the Giants’ defense. Rolle led the Giants with 104 tackles (85 solo). Brown intercepted eight passes, the most by a Giant since Willie Williams had 10 in 1968. His 307 interception return yards broke the former Giants’ single-season record of 251, set by Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell in 1949 and matched by Dick Lynch in 1963. Brown was twice selected NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

In 2011, the safeties were one of the most reliable and consistent units on the Super Bowl champion Giants. Rolle and Deon Grant played in all 20 regular season and postseason games - Rolle started every one – and Kenny Phillips missed only one. The three safeties were often on the field at the same time. Rolle led the team with 96 tackles and intercepted two passes, Phillips had 72 tackles and four picks and Grant had 58 tackles, an interception and a sack.

The safeties were the most improved unit on the team in 2010. Rolle and Grant – newcomers that year - teamed with Phillips (who missed most of the previous season after undergoing knee surgery) – to form a versatile and productive trio. Rolle started all 16 games, was the Giants’ second-leading tackler with 100, and was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team. Phillips started 15 games and had 88 tackles. Grant had eight starts and, like Rolle, was often deployed close to the line of scrimmage. He had 68 tackles. The Giants were ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense and ninth in pass defense that season.

In 2009, Merritt molded a functioning safety unit after Phillips was lost for the season following the second game because of knee surgery. Five different players started at safety for the Giants that year, including converted cornerback Aaron Ross. Despite the shuffling, the Giants were ranked 15th in the NFL in pass defense.

Merritt has demonstrated a knack for developing players who were not highly-touted entering the NFL. When the Giants won the NFC East title in 2008, the starting safeties were Michael Johnson, a seventh-round draft choice, and James Butler, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent. That season, Johnson and Butler tied for second on the team with 76 tackles apiece, and combined for five interceptions.

In the Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl season, one of the team’s best defensive players was free safety Gibril Wilson, who arrived as a fifth-round draft choice. Wilson led the club with 33 postseason tackles, was second with 96 regular season tackles, and was one of the top free agent safeties in 2008.

Merritt assumed his current position prior to the 2006 season. In 2005, he was the Giants’ defensive assistant coach. The previous year, he had the additional title of quality control coach. Merritt was hired by Coughlin on Jan. 26, 2004 after spending three seasons with the Jets as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach.

Before joining the Jets, Merritt coached at the collegiate level for four seasons. In 1997, he was the outside linebackers coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. The following year, Merritt moved to the Virginia Military Institute, where he coached the defensive ends and outside linebackers for 1 season and the defensive line for two.

A linebacker, Merritt was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1993. He played for the Arizona Cardinals from 1993-96 and for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe in 1997. Merritt was an All-ACC linebacker at North Carolina State in 1992, when he led the conference in tackles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from NC State.

In 2012, Merritt was a member of the inaugural class of the Millbrook (N.C.) High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Merritt and his wife, Yolonda, have three sons, David Jr., Devin and Dawson, and a daughter, Drayah. He also has an older daughter, Nkechi (Kiki), who lives in Atlanta.

 

 

 

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