Giants Defense Looking to Lean More on Markus Golden
Giants edge rusher Markus Golden might be feeling a lot of emotions as he prepared for a potentially expanded role in the Giants defense this weekend, but frustration isn’t among them.
Of course, no one would blame Golden, last year's Giants sack leader with 10.0, if he was just a smidge frustrated with his lack of playing time this season, all 124 defensive snaps of it.
“No, not frustrated at all,” Golden said Thursday. “I’ve been in the league for a while, so I know some weeks you can get a lot of plays, other weeks you can’t get lot of plays. My focus every week is the same no matter what, whether I’m starting, whether I’m backing up. It’s go hard in practice, learn the game plan and prepare like I’m starting. I don’t allow that stuff to get me frustrated.”
That’s a good thing because the Giants will need more from Golden this weekend when they host the Washington Football Team.
In the span of four days last week, the Giants placed two young and promising edge rushers, Oshane Ximines (shoulder) and Lorenzo Carter (Achilles), on injured reserve.
Those voids leave the Giants with Kyler Fackrell, who after a quiet start has come on in recent weeks, Golden and, potentially, a pair of rookies, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin, to step in as the edge rushers.
“Right now, he has a great opportunity,” said defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. “It was going to come regardless because he’s a good player.”
Golden, who twice in his career has recorded double-digit sacks, both times playing for defensive coordinator James Bettcher (with Arizona in 2016 and the Giants last year), refused to attach any excuses to his lack of playing time, even when presented them on a silver platter. And he insisted that he’s not keeping track of his snap counts.
“At the end of the day, the only thing I want for the team is really to win. That’s all I want,” he said. “Whether I get one play or whether I get 100 plays, I want to get a win at the end of the day. That’s truly what I’m about, and I’m always going to be like that no matter what.”
Graham, who praised Golden for coming to work every day and throwing 100% effort into everything asked of him, believes that it took the veteran some time to get used to the different system he runs versus what Golden played last year for Bettcher.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Graham said. “He’s worked his tail off to get the stuff down that we’re asking him to do, and you see some of the production coming. The half sack last week, the play on the back side of the run against the Rams. You starting to see, ‘Okay here we go!’”
While Golden has tried to keep his eye on the target, he admitted that “football is football” isn’t always true thanks to the little intricacies different coaches have in their systems that can take some getting used to.
“Yeah, maybe in one defense you have to get off the edge really quick and get down the line if the tackle blocks down. In another defense, you might have to get across the line and be a little more patient and wait for the guy to come to you instead of trying to run through him,” he said.
“It switches up the tempo as far as being more patient and relaxing a little bit instead of running with your hair on fire, see-ball-get-ball type of defensive scheme. Yeah, it’s different.”
But, he added, the little differences aren’t deal breakers for him.
“Once you put it in your head and learn what you have to do, it takes you back to ‘football is football.’ I feel like as long as you know what to do and you know your job, you can go ahead with the mindset of football is football. That’s how I’m going to keep it forever.”
Golden can also take solace in knowing that it’s not all on him to figure out a way to get to the quarterback in this defensive scheme.
“Rushing the passer is a team role. The guys in the middle are working real hard this year. They got way better. You have (Kyler) Fack(rell) working hard, you have Zo (Carter), when Zo was in there, he was working hard. It’s a team role,” he said.
“After that, I’m going to always want to get after the quarterback and make some plays for my team to help the team win.”