Q&A: Defensive Backs Coach Johnnie Lynn
by David Oliver
Me: (curious about Eric’s main man) Tell me about LeBlanc?
Coach: LeBlanc, oh, LeBlaaanc, you have to go French, you know, he’s from New Orleans, Matairie, or someplace down there. Doing good. Of all the secondary guys, he’s probably the one who is on the longest string because he was out playing in the Euro League for us and all the other guys were here during summer school and during the mini-camps. When he came here, he started learning our defense; he shows some promise; he has good range, big body, he can move a little bit, he can catch the ball, and he’ll get up there and hit somebody, so he’s not afraid of that. It’s just a matter of how fast he learns the whole package and what he does once he’s out there on the field playing.
Me: Dave Thomas – how’s he taking the competition?
Coach: He’s loving it. He’s showing up every day.
Me: The guy becomes the starter, plays on a Super Bowl team, then the Giants draft two corners. What does this say to Dave?
Coach: Well, you have to hold up. In the whole scheme, when we brought Dave in, we thought we were going to have Conrad Hamilton, who we thought would be the starter. But Conrad’s knee wasn’t ready, or whatever, so Dave had to step up and play. He’s a big body out there. His strong point is, hey, if I get my hands on you, good. If we turn and go and I tackle you, you are going to be tackled, and things like that. You are always trying to improve in that spot. When we had Phillippi, then Conrad, we didn’t replace guys. You have to continue to replace guys and we didn’t do that.
Me: How are the 2 draftees?
Coach: Oh, very good (smiling). Very good players. They’ve got the instincts, they’ve got the temperament, they’re nasty, in a sense; they’ll hit you, that’s the good part, they’ll put their face in there, and they can cover.
Me: After the Super Bowl, did the Giants go into a “copy cat” frame of mind and try to emulate the Ravens?
Coach: No, we knew before seeing them what kind of corners they had. It’s not a matter of what people have and stuff like that; you have to have speed out there to play.
Me: In designing this year’s defense, has the offense of the Rams had an impact?
Coach: No (emphatically). We are designing it for whomever we play, first teams first. I could care less about the Rams.
Me: Do you think this can be the best secondary the Giants have had in your tenure?
Coach: Without a doubt. They are the best since I’ve been here. This is the best secondary, all the guys, all the way around.
Me: Do any of them remind you of your playing style?
Coach: No, they’re better than I was (laughing).
Me: How so?
Coach: They have the speed, they have the quickness, they have the mental aspects of the game down, because the game has grown. When I was playing, we got into the nickel, now you have four wide receivers, and the demands on the corners, you have to get up there and play inside. Overall, learning the whole scheme is more difficult now.
Me: Can you go with 7 (corners)?
Coach: Hey, I’m going with as many as he gives me, but, you know, we’ve got the safeties, too, right? So I’m hoping he gives me as many as, well, we’ve got Sam, Shaun and Omar, we’ve got the other safeties – what do you do?
Me: Are they equal going into the games?
Coach: Well, what’s happening is that we don’t cut guys or we don’t put guys at risk; they do it themselves, because they have to perform and play; that’s what makes your decisions easier; they have to perform and the way they play says where they line up. We’re going into the first game the way we ended the season last year.
Me: Do you have anything new planned for this season?
Coach: We’ve got so much variety, it’s just a matter of executing. It’s hard to get a bead on us, but we have to stay ahead by working and improving things that we have weaknesses in.
Me: Are you going to be as competitive as last year?
Coach: No doubt, we are going to as competitive as last year. Last year everyone was saying we were a last place club and not very good and we surprised people. It’s a matter of, you have to stay healthy. The first year here, we stayed healthy and we won. Then for two years after that, we weren’t very healthy and we weren’t very good, mediocre, in the middle. Last year, we stayed healthy and we were able to play. We were competitive and we won. With the schedule the way it is, it’s going to be a hard schedule, but, hey, we’re a good team. We’re at the next level, I believe.