EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Jonathan Casillas #52 of the New York Giants celebrates after Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers (not pictured) throws the ball out of the endzone for a safety in the first quarter during an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on October 8, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Jonathan Casillas has a significant amount of praise for newly hired New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

After two years of New York Giants players failing to get accustomed to James Bettcher’s playbook, Big Blue decided not to retain the veteran defensive coordinator. Therefore, the organization brought in Patrick Graham, a 41-year-old Yale graduate who’s worked with a number of teams since entering the league in 2009.

Of course, this will be Graham’s second stint with New York, as he was previously Big Blue’s defensive line coach during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. Graham thus has familiarity with a few players who’ve remained on the roster to this day, but it’s actually a former Giant who’s providing him with a significant amount of praise.

“I feel like Pat Graham, he’s learned so much,” ex-Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas told Lance Medow and John Schmeelk of Giants.com’s “Big Blue Kickoff Live” show. “He’s a guy that has been so versatile. He was a linebackers coach, a D-line coach, defensive backs [coach] and defensive coordinator, and has kind of been all over the place. But I think that versatility has given him a lot of education in different parts of the game, and that’s going to translate over to him being a great defensive coordinator.

“…The players will believe in him because I feel like he’s a coach who believes in his players. Not the scheme, not that he makes all the good ideas, but the guys that he put in certain positions because of his education and everything that he’s learned. But also, his studying, his due diligence on those guys, that they’ll be put in the right place to win. That’s what the Giants needed.”

The 2016 and 2017 seasons were Casillas’ final two years with the Giants. During the former campaign, New York’s defense finished 10th in total yards allowed per game and second in points allowed per game en route to the organization’s first postseason berth since the 2011 season.

Graham will certainly have a lot to work with this year, as the Giants have taken strides to notably improve their defensive unit. After finishing 25th in total defense and 28th in pass defense last year, the team added a new No. 1 corner in James Bradberry along with a tackling machine in Blake Martinez (144, 144, and 155 combined tackles respectively from 2017-19). They additionally drafted arguably the top safety in this year’s class in Xavier McKinney.

Work still needs to be done in the pass-rushing department though. After notching just 36 total sacks last year (22nd in the NFL), the Giants didn’t add a big-name pass rusher in free agency.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.