Tom Uddo, Contributor
In my opinion, the Giants best player on the team so far, comes from the safeties unit. Antrel Rolle has been one of the game’s premier defensive players this year and has held down the Giants backfield each and every week. Rolle has been the voice of the team for many weeks and has attempted to do his best to instill confidence in his team and reassure the fans that the team will turn their season around. Even more importantly, his play on the field and ability to adapt to different defensive formations has showcased his value to Big Blue’s defense.
“Antrel is everywhere. He has played corner, he’s played strong safety, he’s played free safety, he’s played nickel and he’s done that from day one since he arrived and it’s no different this year,” said safeties coach David Merritt. “That young man studies more than any safety I have in the sense that he comes to me all the time and he’s asking about certain plays and we sit and we chat about the plays that he asks about and it’s tremendous to have a kid that way.”
Rolle has 41 tackles so far this season and has tallied three interceptions at the midway point of the season.
A point that coaches insisted on making was the impact of Terrell Thomas who also has snaps at the safety position, even though his main spot is at cornerback. As many Giants fans can note, Thomas has not played a full season since 2010 with multiple injuries to his ACL. You have to feel good for T2 as he was slowly being defined by his constant injuries, but has had a solid season so far when given the nod to step in as a safety. In addition to T2 and Rolle, Will Hill has been an important player to the Giants defensive scheme; with their increased athleticism they are able to adjust to different packages set by the opposing offense.
“We have an ability right now to roll guys back and forth, whether it’s Will Hill, whether it’s Antrel, whether it’s Terrell Thomas and you’re able to confuse the quarterback,” said Merritt.
Merritt had high praises for Hill, who was suspended for the first quarter of the season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
“I like his aggressiveness. I like his ability to tackle. He is able to play man to man coverage. He’s just the ultimate athlete that you would like to have at the safety position because he can do it all,” said Merritt. “In my opinion, I think he can be a Pro Bowler. I really do, because of his body, his aggressiveness and his ability to sink his hips to play man to man on slot receivers. So what he’s doing now is he’s having the ability to actually go out and show the world what he has. Jersey kid. A lot of guys saw it in high school. You’re talking (about) a local hero here, so what he’s doing is not surprising at all.”
Hill will play an important role in the Giants three safety scheme along with Rolle and T2, and coaches have set high expectations for the unit.
“It goes hand in hand. All three of those guys; Will, Terrell and Antrel. With those guys you can mix them up and that’s the beauty of it is that you don’t know who’s going to the post,” said Merritt. ”You don’t know who’s going to be down as a support player, so being able to throw Terrell in there, who’s a big kid as we all know, helps tremendously because of his size. We were able to just kind of roll the dice and shake it up and came out with a great victory down in Philly.”
Looking back, Ryan Mundy has also had his shining moments on the field, even though his time getting snaps has been limited.
“Mundy has done fantastic. Coming here from Pittsburgh and being able to do the things that he has done is a tremendous credit to his ability to step up as a pro and understand the package, understand the defense that we’re trying to put out on the field and right now,” said Merritt. “He’s a very aggressive kid. He loves to be around the box and just his ability to give us what he’s given us so far has been tremendous.”
Even though the Giants defense has given up an average of 30 points per game, they have a new look to them over the past few two weeks in which they gave up just seven points, both times.
Up Next: Cornerbacks