Antrel Rolle believes Giants' defense can be 'dominant'
Antrel Rolle is known as a talker. Once he gets going on a particular subject, the words start spilling out of him faster and faster, and sometimes it's hard to keep up as a listener. It can be hard for him to keep up, too, the verbiage lapping his thoughts.
So when he said the Giants' defense, which was ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams last year, can be "dominant" in 2013 -- and used that adjective several times as not only a goal but an expectation for the unit -- it was pointed out that he was swinging a pretty heavy word.
Was this just more hyperbole, something players say without thinking about it, or did he recognize the heft of his statement?
"I know exactly what it is," Rolle said of the meaning of the word.
If only it were so easy to define the Giants.
The last two years have featured crazy highs and deflating lows, yet each yielded a 9-7 record in the regular season. In 2011, that was good enough to get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. In 2012, it kept them out of the playoffs.
This season, the Giants are focused on consistency and urgency. They want to be in the same place they were late last season but avoid the flop that ruined their defense of the title.
"The groundwork is easy," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "The blueprint is easy. We know what it takes and we have a coaching staff that knows what it takes and puts us in position. We have to do our part, and that starts with hopefully staying healthy but having the mind-set that every time we come out here to work, we have to go to work."
That mind-set has the Giants, and not just Rolle, using strong words to describe their potential. The Giants sound more confident about themselves this summer than they did last year as defending champions.
Even Eli Manning, master of the humble brag, has joined the chorus by saying that despite two Super Bowl MVP awards, he believes he has something to prove to his teammates.
"I think we have some talent on this team," Manning said. "I think there's going to be some opportunities to hit some big plays, whether it's David Wilson in the run game or with our receivers making big plays.
"This offense gives us opportunities to get the ball down the field, and it's just a matter of if we can execute them. Can I get the ball to the receivers, can guys make the right decisions, can we protect? If we do, everything will work out where we could be a high-powered offense and score a lot of points."
Offense wasn't the issue last year, although a few more points in those blowout losses to the Ravens and Falcons wouldn't have hurt. The defense lost its toughness, the coaches said. This year, they are looking to get it back.
"Our focus at this point in the year is that we come out as a defense with a physical performance and that we're dominant," Rolle said. "That's all we have to worry about."
There's that word again.
Are you sure, Antrel?
"Absolutely we can be dominant," he said. "We have all the pieces to be dominant. If we're not dominant, it's an extreme failure on our part. We have all the pieces, we have the players, we have the coaches, we have the scheme. We just have to go out there and make it come to life."