*The Giants.com staff debates the effects of Pat Shurmur's coaches on the makeup of the team's roster: *
This week’s “Cover 3” question: What effect will the makeup of the coaching staff have on how Dave Gettleman builds the roster through the draft and free agency?
I don’t see much of an effect on the offensive side of the ball, but defense is a completely different story. James Bettcher runs a much different defense than Steve Spagnuolo did and it will require some different personnel. It starts at linebacker. Bettcher runs a base 3-4. The Giants will have to add more linebackers to their roster, especially ones that can run (ex: Deone Bucannon) and play inside on early downs. B.J. Goodson is the only returning starter from last year -- although Calvin Munson did start in some situations -- with veterans Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard all free agents. Having a couple stand-up rushers to complement Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon should be a priority as well.
In the defensive backfield, Gettleman might also want to try to target the kind of versatile safeties that Bettcher used in Arizona. Tyrann Mathieu could play safety, slot, or outside cornerback. Buddha Baker could drop into the box like a linebacker or cover in the secondary. Deone Bucannon is a converted safety. Often times, Bettcher would use safeties as linebackers in obvious passing situations. This type of versatility allowed him to be flexible in his schemes and confuse opponents. Landon Collins can certainly drop down into the box, but the Giants could use more players like that at safety for Bettcher to replicate his scheme.
We are looking at this somewhat backwards. If there was one thing Pat Shurmur did best in Minnesota, it was tailoring his scheme to players, not necessarily the other way around. That’s how he got the results with backup quarterbacks and running backs along with an undrafted receiver. Shurmur’s adaptability will trickle down through his coordinators and position coaches. With that said, Shurmur and Gettleman are on the same page in their seriousness to upgrade the offensive line and run the ball. So that is where it all starts. Then on defense, James Bettcher covets versatility. “Tweener” often has a negative connotation for prospects coming out of college, but Bettcher’s defense thrives on hybrids, particularly the safety variety. Look for that, as well as speed at linebacker, when it comes time for free agency next month and the draft a month after that.
I don’t think the makeup of the coaching staff will have a huge impact on how Dave Gettleman constructs the Giants roster. Now that doesn’t mean Gettleman won’t solicit the opinions of the coaching staff on free agents and prospects, but his job as general manager is to provide the best possible talent for the staff to coach up. Plus, the best coaches in this league adapt their schemes to the players’ strengths as opposed to forcing a system on the players.
As a GM, you’re always looking to provide your coaching staff with versatility and depth, regardless of the schemes, and I think that philosophy will suit defensive coordinator James Bettcher very well. He ran a 3-4 base defense in Arizona but also moved personnel around and relied on various sub packages. Hybrid players are important in Bettcher’s defense, so perhaps Gettleman places an emphasis on that. He may look to provide depth at the safety position considering those players can play near the line and even serve as linebackers.