The New York Giants secondary was one of the many sore spots during the team's collapse towards the end of the season. <>The Giants were unable to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. NFC East division rivals, the Washington Redskins, eventually won captured the divisional crown.
Big Blue is considered one of the favorites to win the division this year, but it will need the secondary to improve in order to reach the posteseason. The Giants were constantly beat by the deep ball and opposing quarterbacks had field days when they faced the G-men's secondary.
Giants Secondary/Safeties Coach David Merrit wants to avoid some of the big plays from last season.
"You guys are seeing the same thing I'm seeing," Merritt said. "Our corners, and we all know that the ball went outside. The ball would go deep and outside, which they kept it away from the post safety. I talked to a couple of my buddies who coach on other squads and it's a big fraternity and they say they're going to keep it out of the middle of the field away from Kenny Phillips and Stevie Brown and the ball started going outside."
The emergence of Stevie Brown was a pleasant surprise for the Giants' defense. Brown was in Pro Bowl talks for the safety position. He finished the season with 76 combined tackles and was tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions.
"I'll tell you what, he picked up where he left off last year," Merritt said. "Stevie Brown is able to continue to show us that he has range. He made a couple of plays as far as breaking from one side of the field all the way over to the opposite hash and that's tremendous for us. Of course, we're trying to practice healthy and we're trying to be safe and so therefore we don't necessarily run through the players, but the range that he is displaying is actually a little more than what he displayed last year.
Veteran Antrel Rolle will play a more traditional safety this season, which means Brown will have to play in the box more often to stop the run. Rolle has received a physical beating since making the switch over to safety from cornerback. So Rolle will be able to drop back and allow his young partner play in the box.
"Antrel talks about it all the time," Merritt explained Rolle's take on not playing in the box. "Antrel has gotten beaten up over the past couple of years playing the nickel position. You all remember when he was in Arizona. He started as a corner, he moved to safety, they kept him in the middle of the field and one year he probably had six or seven interceptions. So as much as Antrel can, he's going to try and put Stevie in the box, but we're going to control that."
Antrel has the ability to become an important piece in the team's pass defense, but Brown is also a ball hawk, and led the team in interceptions last season. The Giants have the pieces to become one of the best secondaries in the NFL, especially with the safeties they have. The safety position will be even better when Will Hill returns from his four game suspension. For now, Brown and Rolle will have to carry the load during the early stages of the season.