EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 29: Dalvin Tomlinson #94 and B.J. Hill #95 of the New York Giants celebrates a sack of Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham won’t tip his hand when it comes to defensive formations and schemes.

Jason Leach

When you think of the New York Giants, offensive players like Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones are the first to come to mind. But all eyes are going to be on the defense this year.

One of the questions coming into this season is what defensive scheme the Giants would play under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The assumption is that they would play a 3-4 defense as they have done the previous two seasons under James Bettcher.

But neither Graham nor head coach Joe Judge have given a clear answer on what defense they’ll play yet. On Tuesday, Graham was asked if the Giants would play a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, and he gave a detailed answer.

“I always answer with ‘yes’. So you say 4-3, 3-4, 2-4, 3-3-5, whatever you want to say, I’ll say yes,” Graham explained. “I’m not trying to make a joke of it. We are going to do what’s best with what we have in terms of the people, the personnel we have, and what we think is best for the game.”

“I would say this, the game is mostly made up of sub plays when you look at the percentages. Most of the time there is three receivers out there. I think you have to look at it from a sub perspective in terms of how you are going to deploy the guys and then go from there. Whether it’s a 3-4, 4-3, 4-2-5, they have a basic football foundation in terms of defensive scheme. They all kind of blend together in my mind.”

Graham’s philosophy with schemes matches the sentiment Judge expressed at his introductory press conference. Judge wants to build a team that imposes its will and forces opponents out of their comfort zone.

By freely switching between defensive alignments, the Giants can keep their opponents guessing. What formation will they come out in? Where is the blitz coming from? You get the idea.

While the Giants have several talented players in the front seven, none have established themselves as a superstar yet. If the Giants plan to improve on the 24th ranked defense they were a season ago, they will need to use schemes to confuse the opponent and in turn, generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Graham and his defense will be tested early and often in 2020. The Giants face three of the top-seven offenses from last season in their first five games.

Front Seven Personnel

Over the last three offseasons, general manager Dave Gettleman has put an emphasis on building a strong front seven. While the Giants are thin when it comes to the secondary, they’re pretty deep when it comes to their defensive front seven. In fact, some of the best players on the team play on the defensive front.

Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill, Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, Blake Martinez, Oshane Ximines, Ryan Connelly, and Kyler Fackrell are just some of the players Graham has in his arsenal to disrupt opposing offenses.

It’s impossible to have too much depth in the NFL, especially when it comes to the front seven. Having a strong rotation of reliable guys means the entire group will have fresher legs when fourth quarters roll around. Not only do the Giants have depth, but they also have versatile and athletic players who can fit in a variety of schemes.

If the Giants are going to surprise teams this season and change their losing ways of the past three years, they’re going to rely heavily on their defensive front seven, and the defensive schemes that Graham will have up his sleeve.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.