Like just about everyone else, Antrel Rolle was impressed with the Seahawks' defense in Super Bowl XLVIII. Now the challenge will be to bring the Giants' defense up to that level.
"I think Seattle's defense set some pretty big standards and some pretty big shoes to fill for the 2014 season," the Giants safety said at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, where he was being honored Tuesday night. "Our expectations are always great. We're just wishing for more consistency and better play overall from the Giants because we can do it."
One way to accomplish that, Rolle said, is not to have to simplify things. The Giants coaching staff was lauded for running an easier defense, a change that came about at halftime of the loss to the Bears in Week 6 (and a little too late to save the season after six straight losses). But Rolle said the problem wasn't the complicated schemes but the players who couldn't keep up with them.
"There were sometimes during the year when Perry Fewell was restricted from running certain defenses that I know he would love to run," Rolle said. "Certain defenses I know could have helped us out defensively at the beginning of the year. But it takes everyone. It's a collective effort and if one guy is wrong we're all wrong. For the early part of the year that's something that we failed to do as a defensive unit.
"You're going to have guys who study and go way beyond the X's and O's and you're going to have guys who go in there and just do what is taught to them during meeting times and when they study at the facility and what is taking place on the field," Rolle said. "This game, you have to study this game and that's what a lot of people don't understand. You have to study the game with the guy beside you because that's who you're going to be playing with, that's who you need to have the same chemistry with.
"We failed to do that, especially in the beginning of the season, so coach Perry Fewell had to simplify a lot of things for our defense this year. We're looking for the guys who can step in, who can understand the defense, who can play the defense and can be very versatile because that's the way we won when we won the Super Bowl in 2011."
Besides schemes, Rolle also said the Giants can take away a lesson from the Seahawks about their attitude.
"I think we can also get better at that, being more consistent, bringing more swagger and more attitude to the game of football and be a fearful defense," Rolle said. "When you go out there and you see Seattle's defense, they instill fear in Denver from the first play, from the crowd noise to the hike going over Peyton [Manning's] head to the Kam Chancellor hit on Demaryius Thomas at the beginning, they set the tempo early. In my eyes, Denver was a little bit timid throughout the game.
"That bar is set extremely high for that game," Rolle added. "They went out there, more importantly like I tell everybody throughout the week even with the Giants and myself, this game is won on attitude. They went out there and set the tempo extremely early. You saw some fear in the Denver offense, from the front line all the way through. The defense created that. They created their own mismatches and they took advantage of every opportunity."
Rolle also discussed other topics.
He said two free agents he would like to see the Giants retain for 2014 are defensive end Justin Tuck and linebacker Jon Beason. He also said he sat with tight end Jermichael Finley of the Packers at the Super Bowl and they spoke about the possibility of Finley coming to the Giants as a free agent in March.
"He said that he would love to be a part of the Giants," Rolle said.
Rolle said that the 2013 season took a toll on him, particularly from a mental standpoint. "I definitely need a break," he said of the upcoming offseason. "I'm not in a rush to get back."
He said he enjoyed participating in the Pro Bowl. "It didn't take away from the feeling of being snubbed, but it was awesome," he said of playing as an alternate. As for the format of the game, Rolle said it was "10 times better" than the old AFC vs. NFC games.
"It gives you some sort of challenge in a way," he said. "You're teamed with a lot of AFC guys and you're developing that chemistry and that bond within three days max just to get ready for a game to be on the same page at the same time. We were out there clicking. And more importantly we were out there thumping. I'm all for that."
And Rolle said he has not had any conversations with the Giants about his contract, which has one year remaining, although he did not rule out those conversations.
"I won't approach them," he said. "I've never been the kind of guy to worry about contract issues. In my eyes I'm still under contract, I still have a year left to go. If the Giants want to do something, they'll come to me. They're a very professional organization, I'm a professional about my business, and whatever happens it won't be in the media until they reveal it because I never speak about contract issues. So we'll see what happens."