Bring back the Big Blue Wrecking Crew
By Michael Stewart @golferbad
Introduction:The 2018 New York Giants are going to feature a new starting group of linebackers; which will be relied upon under new Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher. The projected four starters are Kareem Martin, Olivier Vernon on the outside with Alec Ogletree and B. J Goodson on the inside.
That’s a much better upgrade from the 2017 starters of Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Sheppard, Calvin Munson and Keenan Robinson (B.J Goodson was out most of the season). It’s been awhile for Giant fans to really get excited about the linebacker position until this season with the added addition of Lorenzo Carter through the draft, which’s expected to be utilized for his passing rushing abilities.
Defensive Coordinator Bettcher plans to use all of his linebackers throughout the game and keeping them fresh with a rotational system. Also in the mix will be depth players such as Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara who will be transitioning over to linebacker.
DE Josh Mauro is serving a four game suspension at the start of the season, so Martin could move to defensive end to start the season with Carter at the weak-side linebacker spot until Mauro returns. Last season, the Giants ranked 26th against the run; as a lot of that was due to the poor play from the linebacker position.
On paper, the 2018 version are more talented and should be better suited to play in the 3-4 defensive schemes. Look for the 2018 linebacker group to be more active and better play makers than last year’s group; with an emphasis on ball pursuit. The new defensive 3-4 alignment should benefit all four starters; along with Carter as it will allow him to use his athleticism more to make plays.
Martin has the most experience playing in the 3-4 scheme and transition easier than the others. However; both Goodson and Ogletree should feed off each other and utilize their tackling ability. Olivier Vernon should also benefit from the position change as it will allow him to move off the ball quicker off a two point stance to get to the quarterback quicker.
Final Thoughts:This group will not bring back memories of the legendary linebackers of Giants past such as: Brad Van Pelt, Harry Carson, Brian Kelly and Lawrence Taylor. Or not even the group of Carl Banks, Harry Carson, Pepper Johnson and Lawrence Taylor. However; it’s a step in the right direction and if rookie Lorenzo Carter is as good as advertised, the Giants might finally have a sack producing linebacker they haven’t had since Lawrence Taylor.