Many people have been asking what the Giants' base defense will look like. Will it be a 4-3, 3-4, 2-4, 3-3-5, or 4-2-5?
Patrick Graham today answered the question once and for all: "Yes."
"I'm not trying to make a joke of it," the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator said during Tuesday's video conference with reporters. "We are going to do what's best with what we have in terms of the people, the personnel we have and what we think is best for the game. … They all kind of blend together in my mind."
In other words, he plans to deploy all of those schemes -- and more -- on Sundays. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said as much about his side of the ball during a separate video conference shortly before Graham. Under Joe Judge, the Giants want to attack opponents in a variety of ways.
It is up to the coordinators to make them as simple as possible for the players, especially in a year when teams have yet to practice fully together, which will happen later this week.
"Even with trying to be multiple, the idea is to be multiple in a limited amount of scheme so that we're doing all the fundamentals that we are looking for on defense," Graham said. "In terms of playing with our hands, playing with good pad level, setting the edge, defending the deep part of the field and tackling, that's what we focus on."
While the scheme is indefinable, Graham does have a few non-negotiables for his defense.
"What we are looking for is guys who put the team first," he said. "They value the process and they play with good football position. We have to get over ourselves in order to accomplish a goal and we can't let our personal feelings or personal agendas get in the way. I think it's important to understand there is a limited amount of time each day. Throughout the season there is a limited amount of time and we have come in and put in the necessary work and the hard work to improve. We have to embrace that. That's a big part of what I'm looking for when I'm talking to these guys."
Graham added, "I would say there has to be an element of toughness and then how are we going to measure toughness. There's mental toughness, you know that, there's physical toughness. I tell the guys straight up, it's how we play the run game and how we affect the special teams coverage unit. I think it's important that the toughness comes out and I know Joe spoke on it, we are going to be a reflection of the region. This is a tough region, in terms of tough people make up this region."
One big piece of Graham's plans is Dexter Lawrence. Graham, who was a defensive line coach during his first stint with the Giants, met the 6-foot-4, 342-pounder during the 2019 draft circuit before the Giants ended up selecting him 17th overall. Graham was the defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins at the time.
He thought Lawrence was big then.
"Then when you finally see him again after the hiatus off of football and everything was on Zoom and he's reduced to a one-inch box, all of the sudden you see him walk in and you think, 'This dude is really big,'" Graham said. "That's my main impression. He is a pleasure to be around. He has a bubbly personality. I would say that counters my demeanor, which is usually not too bubbly. He has a way of keeping it light and I like that. I think a big part of being a coach and being in a leadership role is being receptive to other people and how they are. I like that about him. I know he works hard too, so I'm very excited to be around him. I'm very excited to see him on the field and get this thing going."
Aside from his obvious size and athleticism, Graham pointed to Lawrence's effort level and chasing plays from the backside to limit potentially big gains to small ones.
"When those big guys are the guys leading with the effort on the field, you can feel that," Graham said. "You can feel when a 300-pound man is running to the ball carrier. You can feel when a 300-pound man is hitting that check-down; the opponents will feel that. That's exciting to see because I think the guys will feed off of that."
View photos of the 2020 New York Giants coaching staff