Antrel Rolle Talks Defense, His Contract, and Recruiting Jermichael Finley: The New York Giants finished 8th in the NFL in total defense in 2013 in terms of yards allowed, a dramatic improvement over their 31st ranking in 2012. But safety Antrel Rolle spoke yesterday about what the Giants defense needs to do in order to improve in 2014 and be more like the NFL’s best defense – the Seattle Seahawks.
“I think Seattle’s defense set some pretty big standards and some pretty big shoes to fill for the 2014 season,” said Rolle. “Our expectations are always great. We’re just wishing for more consistency and better play overall from the Giants because we can do it.”
Rolle lamented the fact that Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell was forced to simplify the defense last year because some of his teammates could not keep up with the more complicated schemes.
“There were sometimes during the year when Perry Fewell was restricted from running certain defenses that I know he would love to run,” Rolle said. “Certain defenses I know could have helped us out defensively at the beginning of the year. But it takes everyone. It’s a collective effort and if one guy is wrong we’re all wrong. For the early part of the year that’s something that we failed to do as a defensive unit. You’re going to have guys who study and go way beyond the X’s and O’s and you’re going to have guys who go in there and just do what is taught to them during meeting times and when they study at the facility and what is taking place on the field. This game, you have to study this game and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. You have to study the game with the guy beside you because that’s who you’re going to be playing with, that’s who you need to have the same chemistry with.”
“We failed to do that, especially in the beginning of the season, so coach Perry Fewell had to simplify a lot of things for our defense this year,” said Rolle. “We’re looking for the guys who can step in, who can understand the defense, who can play the defense and can be very versatile because that’s the way we won when we won the Super Bowl in 2011.”
Rolle also talked about the Giants playing with a more aggressive, physical swagger on defense.
“I think we can also get better at that, being more consistent, bringing more swagger and more attitude to the game of football and be a fearful defense,” Rolle said. “When you go out there and you see Seattle’s defense, they instill fear in Denver from the first play, from the crowd noise to the hike going over Peyton (Manning’) head to the Kam Chancellor hit on Demaryius Thomas at the beginning, they set the tempo early. In my eyes, Denver was a little bit timid throughout the game. That bar is set extremely high for that game. They went out there, more importantly like I tell everybody throughout the week even with the Giants and myself, this game is won on attitude. They went out there and set the tempo extremely early. You saw some fear in the Denver offense, from the front line all the way through. The defense created that. They created their own mismatches and they took advantage of every opportunity.”
Rolle currently has one year left on his current contract and is set to count $9.25 million against the Giants 2014 salary cap. “I won’t approach (the Giants about a new contract),” said Rolle. “I’ve never been the kind of guy to worry about contract issues. In my eyes I’m still under contract, I still have a year left to go. If the Giants want to do something, they’ll come to me. They’re a very professional organization, I’m a professional about my business, and whatever happens it won’t be in the media until they reveal it because I never speak about contract issues. So we’ll see what happens.”
Rolle watched the Super Bowl with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent tight end Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers. Finley’s 2014 season ended when he underwent spinal fusion surgery in November. Rolle said he was lobbying Finley to sign with the Giants.
“We were recruiting each other,” Rolle said. “(Finley) said he would love to be a part of the Giants. And going up against this guy for a number of years now, I said I would love for him to be a part of the Giants so we don’t have to face him. He’s an extreme talent. He’s an exceptional guy and more important, I know he’s a fiery guy. I think that’s something we could definitely use on the offensive side of the ball, a guy with some intensity…He’s a guy I would love to be a teammate with, and I think we could do some great things together.”
New Giants defensive coordinator Ben McAdoo coached Finley in Green Bay. McAdoo was the Packers tight ends coach from 2006-2011.
“(Finley) was telling me Ben McAdoo is a brain, that he’s going to keep defenses guessing, he’s very smart,” Rolle said. “I just said, ‘Yes!’ I feel like our offense is definitely going to excel in his system and Eli is going to do what he does best, which is lead our offense. And the defense will be there to pick up the pieces and make sure we create more turnovers and give them more opportunities to do their thing.”
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