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Giants Now: Patrick Graham takes page from Gregg Popovich


Patrick Graham takes from Gregg Popovich coaching philosophy

Patrick Graham's defense has been one of the strong suits of the Giants this season.

The defense enters Week 10 ranked in the top half of the league in both points (13th) and yards (15th) allowed, while matching the Pittsburgh Steelers for the second-most turnovers forced (15) in the NFL. Big Blue's defense has given up an average of 94.8 rushing yards per game, good for the fifth-best mark in the league, while the 3.7 yards per carry allowed ranks fourth.

Through the first nine games of the season, Graham's defense has stepped up when opponents get close to the end zone. The Giants rank fourth in the league with a red zone percentage of 52.8 percent, allowing touchdowns on just 19 of 36 trips inside the 20-yard line. Over the last six weeks, the unit has allowed more than 25 points in just one game and kept opponents to 22 points or less in four outings.

Linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez spoke with The Post's Steve Serby this week about what it's like playing under Graham. During their discussion, Martinez shared a story about how Graham mirrors a coaching philosophy of one of the greatest to ever do it in the sport of basketball. Here is what Serby wrote:

[Even before he installed the play in the Saturday walk-through practice that resulted in Logan Ryan's game-sealing interception of Alex Smith on Sunday, Graham has fielded a chameleon, shape-shifting defense from week to week that no longer resembles the Keystone Cops each and every week.

One of Graham's motivational tools is quoting Spurs five-time NBA champion coach Gregg Popovich:

"I don't know the exact wording of the quote, but he always kind of brings it up to us," Blake Martinez told The Post after practice Wednesday, "and it's about putting your own individual self aside for the better part of the team, and that's always been something that he's told us to kind of resemble and be about as an individual, and as a captain, as a leader, as a teammate, to be that type of person."

The actual Popovich quote is likely this one: 'It's not about any one person. You've got to get over yourself and realize that it takes a group to get this thing done.'

Asked how the Giants defense is a reflection of their Yalie coordinator, Martinez said: "His intensity, and then his attention to detail, his passion for the game. Everybody knows what they're supposed to do and knows what type of energy to be at when they're doing it."]

Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers make a formidable duo

Logan Ryan has started 103 regular-season and postseason games in an NFL career that began in 2013. Ninety-three of those starts were at cornerback, five as a less-defined defensive back and the remainder at free safety.

All five of the latter starts were this season, his first with the Giants. He made his initial career start at safety on Sept. 27 against San Francisco and he's started each of the last four games at the back of the defense with Jabrill Peppers.

Ryan began being a fulltime safety after Julian Love's playing time was reduced and Adrian Colbert injured his shoulder. He might be new to the position, but that it doesn't mean he's not good, or confident in his abilities.

"I honestly believe with my work ethic and my toughness and my willingness to be great, I think I can be the best safety in football," Ryan said today. "I'm working on it. I do think I have a ways to go."

Has the transition been better than he anticipated?

"It goes as I put the work in," Ryan said. "I think I work extremely hard. I've called myself a safety, but I've never really done it to this extent. It is my first year at the position full time, my first year back there in the post. It's my first year doing the same things I do. I didn't have the reps in training camp, I didn't have the reps in OTA's. I was working behind the scenes."

He' s getting help from teammates present and past, most notably Peppers.

"I'm learning from the safeties here," Ryan said. "I'm learning from safeties around the league. Two of my best friends are Kevin Byard and Devin McCourty (former teammates in Tennessee and New England, respectively) who are all-pro at the position before. I surround myself (with players) who are really good at it and I watch from everybody. I'm developing my own style on how to do it. I think ultimately my toughness, my work ethic and being fundamentally sound and my ability to go get the ball, I think is what could make me the best safety in football. I'm going to try my best to do everything I can to be the best safety for the Giants. I'm excited the more reps I get. Every single game I am getting more comfortable at the position."

Practice Photos: Giants ramp up for rivalry week

Check out the gallery below to view photos of the Giants practicing at MetLife Stadium ahead of Sunday's Week 10 rivalry game against the Eagles.

View photos of the Giants practicing at MetLife Stadium ahead of Sunday's rivalry game against the Eagles.


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