This Giants roster has a few holes that have yielded errors, miscues, and sluggish performances. Most of the above can be adjusted in the film room with better preparation, adjustments, and execution; that at the very least could make this team competitive. However, when it comes to heart, hunger, and desire to punish their opponents, well that’s something this Giants team has been lacking for some time now.
Unfortunately, the solution to this lackluster mentality does not lie in a playbook or in the words of their coaches. That bit of nasty and hustle comes from within. And although the defense has played hard, they don’t seem like they’re enjoying the game anymore, and this may or may not have influenced their heart on the field. As captain, Rolle has a keen sense of awareness when it comes to his fellow defenders; he too feels the Giants have been lacking that “finish him” mentality.
"I think we just need to get back to being a little nasty, having a nasty attitude, get a little bit more dog in us, and go out there and play the game," he said.
With the past three performances, Rolle is right in his assessment. Though the offensive line has had its struggles the Giant’s defense is relatively healthy and has the ability to be the strength of the team regardless of how the offense performs. Perhaps they can be the one’s to get the momentum going for the offense with big plays on the defensive end rather than the mediocre showings they have had thus far.
Long gone are the days of “ballin” where the Giants defense was not only in its prime, but seemed like they actually enjoyed being on the field more than the offense. That was a unit that loved being the bruising bullies who scared offensive coordinators, quarterbacks, and linemen on a weekly basis. That was the identity of the defense. This defense is still trying to figure out what it is they do best. Rolle & Co. seem confident that, as Sam Cooke once beautifully said, “a change is gonna come.”
"I think we need to do some serious soul-searching within the locker room and try to understand and try to form an identity of who we're gonna be," he said.
This defense has the “big butts” to develop an identity as a run stuffing bunch. They have the speed and skill on the edge, as well as the talent, experience, and depth in the secondary to be a solid unit against the pass as well. It’s the physicality that needs to be brought to another level. It’s possible that the lack of “nasty” could be due to Tom Coughlin’s endless preaching of mistake and penalty free football. With the new rule changes as they are, and Coughlin’s hatred of penalties, it is plausible that the Giants’ defensive softness could be a result Coughlin’s emphasis on penalty-free football. Perhaps that is what Rolle meant when he claimed that he would do things his way, if need be.
"From this point on, I don't care what the situation may be, I don't care what the outcome is. I don't care what the hell has to happen. If they want to kick me up from around here, from the New York Giants, then that's gonna be what has to happen. But I'm gonna play Antrel Rolle ball the way I know how to play Antrel Rolle ball, and I'm gonna lead the way I know how to lead," he added.
Let’s just hope the rest of the team feels the same way.
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