A Conversation with DBs coach Peter Giunta

It's rare when 75 percent of a starting secondary changes from one year to the next. It's even more rare though when a club can add a former Super Bowl champion defensive coordinator to lead that new group of defensive backs. Yet that's just what Tom Coughlin was able to accomplish when he named Peter Giunta, the architect of St. Louis' 1999 defense, his new secondary coach.

Giunta spent the last five seasons as Kansas City's secondary coach after serving as the Rams defensive coordinator from 1998-2000.

Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis has been blown away with Giunta's abilities since he joined Big Blue's staff on Jan. 18.

"He was a coordinator of a Super Bowl champion," Lewis said. "So he has a tremendous amount of experience, instinct, feel and understanding. He's very fast on the field. He really understands how to get young players from rookie to very good very quickly. He understands how to help them. He's demanding, but at the same time approachable and the players respect and like that."

Read on to see what Coach Giunta has to say about his new players and post.

Q: How have your first few months on the job been?

A: I'm very excited to be here. Coach Coughlin came out to our training camp in Kansas City, spoke to our team and did a great job. I got to meet him there and got a great impression of him. I've watched Coach Lewis when he was in Pittsburgh and here with the Giants. I really like what he's done with his schemes. I just want to contribute and help out however I can. This is a great opportunity for me.

Q: How have you adjusted to the New York area so far?

A: I love it. I absolutely love it. I grew up in Boston and love the East Coast. We were in Philadelphia for four years and Long Island too. We like it here. New York's a great city and I really enjoy it here. I love the challenge of coaching here and love the people that I'm working with. I'm really excited to be here.

Q: How much can your experience of winning the Super Bowl help here?

A: Being around Coach Vermeil for eight years was outstanding; it taught me so much. I was on some great defenses with Rich Kotite down in Philadelphia and we had the two great ones in St. Louis including when we won the championship. Bud Carson was my mentor. Being around him in Philadelphia and St. Louis was a great opportunity. Winning is great and I see that we have a chance to be a very successful football team here.

Q: One of the main problems in the past has been the secondary's inability to intercept passes. What do you plan to do to change that?

A: You tell your players that if they do their job well, those plays will come. When the opportunity presents itself, you have to be there to make the play. If you work hard enough and catch the ball enough and do the drills when the ball comes your way, you'll be able to make the play. If you use good technique and fundamentals, you'll be able to make the play. When guys start to press and try to create things is usually when they give up big plays. We want to do everything we can this offseason and in training camp to catch as many balls as we can.

Q: How would you describe your coaching style?

A: I try to be a teacher. Teaching is an art. You have to do the best you can to get the most out of your players. You have to get them to play and use the techniques we want them to play with and become students of the game.

Q: How nice is it taking over a secondary that lines up behind players like Strahan, Osi and LaVar?

A: Obviously if you have a great pass rush it really helps. We tell the guys on the back end that if they can cover their guy the guys up front can get some sacks. The two work hand-in-hand. The better you cover, the more pressure they'll get and the more sacks they'll get. Conversely, the quarterback will start getting rid of the ball quicker so that'll help the guys in the back. If we can do our job on the back end it'll allow guys like Michael and Osi to have a very successful year.

Q: Is it an advantage being a new coach that's taking over a position with so much turnover?

A: It helps that we're almost all coming in together and we're all here to build something great. Coach Lewis has done a great job of helping us coaches and players get the system down. We all have to be able to speak ‘Giant.' We all have to be able to play and use the same terminology and technique. He's done a great job of getting us all on the same page.

Q: From your experience, how long do you think it will take until the secondary can truly jell?

A: I was asked that last year when Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight came in and we were able to see the cohesion come pretty quickly. It's too early to tell now, but once you start training camp and get a game or two under your belt, you'll be able to tell better then.

Q: How much does a guy like Sam Madison still have left in the tank?

A: He's a true professional. He's a great guy. He's worked very hard and bought into everything we've asked him to do. It's hard basically playing the same system your whole career and now coming here and having to learn an entirely different way. He's been a tremendous asset for us.

Q: How about Corey Webster on the other side?

A: Corey's doing a good job of learning the defense and learning what it takes to be a starter in the National Football League. He's worked real hard this offseason and we're looking forward to him becoming a better player.

Q: What exactly does it take to be an NFL starter?

A: He's just going to have to keep learning and refining his skills. Once he gets more game experience that's going to help too.

Q: What is Will Demps going to add to this defense?

A: He's another guy that's only known one system his whole career. He was a walk-on in college and a free agent in Baltimore. This is a chance for him to prove to everybody that he is a very good player. We're expecting him to take advantage of this opportunity that he has.

Q: The one holdover is Gibril Wilson. What do you know about him?

A: He's done very well, but now that he's the veteran of the group he has to get used to playing with a whole different group around him. He's done a great job rehabbing and getting himself strong and ready for the season.

Q: Has anything stood out among your young kids like Charlie Peprah and Gerrick McPhearson?

A: All the young kids are doing what we're asking them to do. They're all competing. It's been a very competitive offseason so far. We're excited about that competition carrying over to training camp.

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