How Nate Ebner Believes Giants Can Build Special Teams Chemistry

Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson Thompson

Giants new head coach Joe Judge built his resume in an organization that places substantial value on special teams. As the former New England Patriots special teams coordinator, Judge relied on versatile safety Nate Ebner to help anchor a championship special teams unit.

Judge will get that luxury again in his first head coaching stint with the Giants, as Ebner, who brings eight years of experience playing for Judge, looks to serve as a potential ace and voice in the New York special teams' room. 

"Whatever is asked from me, not only from [Judge] but the rest of that coaching staff, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability," Eber said in a conference call Tuesday. 

"That, to me, is what I've watched some great players do in New England, and that's my mindset ... that's what great teams do."

From 2012 to 2019, Ebner built chemistry with New England's long-time special teams staple Matthew Slater. As an eight-time Pro-Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro on special teams, Slater set a standard for the unit's work ethic, giving Ebner an example for Ebner to follow when he first came into the league. 

"I learned a lot from Matt coming in as a rookie," Ebner said. "I just watched him work on a day-to-day basis ... coming to work with a selfless attitude to do the work that's asked of you to the best of your ability ... to put the teams' priorities above your own. That's what Matt did forever."

Now Ebner must build new chemistry with his Giants teammates, and potentially fill a Slater-like leadership role for Judge as they look to emulate New England's emphasis on quality special teams play. 

Ebner believes the key to building the chemistry on his new unit doesn't require more than the basics of what it took on the Patriots. 

"It's about finding guys that want to put everything into their work every day," he said. "It sounds like there'd be more to it, or it sounds like rah-rah stuff, but that's the truth. Just (be) a group of guys that are tight-knit and want to fight for each other."

Ebner could be a key ambassador for Judge's locker room as one of his long-time players now on the Giants, but he will also work alongside a new special teams coach in Thomas McGaughey. 

Under McGaughey, the Giants boasted one of the top special teams units in the NFL in 2019, ranking first in kick-off return yards, fourth in punt return yards, seventh in punt return yards allowed and third in kick-off return yards allowed.

The addition of a special teams-centric veteran like Ebner to McGaughey's already-impressive unit could bring even more of that Patriots dynasty standard to the Giants' special teams play. 

The return of kicker Adrick Rosas and punter Riley Dixon could make for a combination that once again sees a unit that finishes near the top of the league in 2020.