Giants Make Important—and Telling—Change to Defensive Coaching Philosophy

Defensive line coach Andre Patterson revealed he's been asked to do something different this year.
Andre Patterson from his days with Minnesota.
Andre Patterson from his days with Minnesota. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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When it comes to the New York Giants, a team that finished 6-11 season last year, any change made to the team’s coaching process should be fully embraced.

Take, for instance, the decision to have defensive line coach Andre Patterson work with the edge rushers, a first for the veteran coach while with the Giants.

Patterson, who confirmed the change, noted that with new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen looking to generate a pass rush with the front seven, there has been more collaboration between himself and new outside linebackers coach Charlie Bullen to get the edge rushers up to speed.

“I’m just doing what they want me to do,” Patterson told reporters during the defensive assistants’ media session.

“It wasn’t something that was asked of me before then. I have a little history of helping those guys, so it’s been good. It’s been good for me to visit with those guys and let them see how I think it should be done.”

The 'Giants' pass rush under former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale relied more heavily on exotic blitzes, which often called upon members of the defensive secondary to provide extra firepower.

Last season, the Giants had the second-highest blitz rate in the NFL (45.4 percent) but only managed to get pressure on 20.9 percent of their blitzes, 18th in the league.

The change in coaching philosophy seems to be going well, according to outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux.

“Dre is a legend. He's like Mr. Miyagi, Yoda--knows how it all works. Charlie comes in, and he's the energy. When you talk about the scheme, things like that, they've been working hand-in-hand.

“When you see how it's going to continue to unfold--I think last year the interior and the edge weren't cohesive--now it's going to start to work like clockwork.”

Thibodeaux’s comment about the lack of cohesiveness between the interior and the edge raised some eyebrows. The third-year linebacker likened the two units to a basketball team.

“Basketball has a lot of star players. You can play one on one. You can go out there and have a LeBron (James), all these greats go and score,” he explained.

“Now, with football, you're not as good unless you have all 11 players. Now, when you look at the front, right, one side isn't setting the edge, and the other is, it doesn't matter.

“If the back end isn't covering the wide receivers, there's no chance for a sack. The front end is not pressuring the quarterback; there's no chance for a pick. When you think about how things work together, we have to understand that.”

During OTA No. 3, both Thibodeaux and Brian Burns were extremely active when asked to “rush” the passer. However, it needs to be remembered that these are non-contact practices that aren’t even held in shells, which means that getting excited over a sizable amount of pressures (or lack thereof) is premature.

“It means nothing,” Burns said of his seemingly productive day. “The main thing I'm focused on right now is pretty much getting my wind up. The moves and everything natural, that's going to come, that's going to be there. Yeah, me doing what I did today in OTAs, training camp will show more. That's real football.”

While Burns has a point, how reassuring is knowing that there is more collaboration between two defensive units that must work together cohesively?

Patricia Traina


Patricia Traina has covered the New York Giants for over three decades for various media outlets. She is the host of the Locked On Giants podcast and the author of "The Big 50: New York Giants: The Men and Moments that Made the New York Giants" (Triumph Books, September 2020). View Patricia's full bio.