Ben McAdoo dodged the question a bit when asked whether B.J. Goodson is the team’s starting middle linebacker. In truth, he didn’t really have to answer that one.
Goodson has taken virtually every first-team snap with the defense since they showed up for offseason training in April and has shown no signs of backing down from the challenge put in front of him. The Giants handed him the keys to their defense and off he went.
Besides, if anyone is going to name Goodson the starter, it might as well be Goodson.
That’s the kind of take-charge player he has become.
“I’m running the show,” he said on Wednesday of his role in the defense. “So, at the end of the day, what I say goes. The guys trust me, [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] trusts me, and that’s what matters.”
That’s exactly what you’d like to hear from a middle linebacker. It’s just a little surprising to hear it from a second-year player who logged all of 14 defensive snaps a year ago and is surrounded by Pro Bowlers and All-Pro players at every other level of the defense.
“Yeah, you’re right about that,” Goodson said when the disparity between his experience and his confidence was pointed out. “But it’s something that I’ve been practicing all last year. Last year, I was preparing as if I was the starter and this is just the same thing. Just opportunity.”
The Giants have been thrilled with Goodson’s development both on and off the field. His temperament is ideal for his job. Last week Spagnuolo raved about that feistiness.
“Believe it or not, the other day, I said something to him maybe a little harsh,” Spagnuolo said of a criticism he made. “He responded just as harsh. I like that in a ‘Mike’ linebacker.”
It reminded Spagnuolo of run-ins he used to have with Antonio Pierce when Pierce was Spags’ brain on the field. Pierce is now a member of the Giants’ coaching staff.
“Antonio and I were talking about it, and there weren’t many moments like that with AP and I, but I like that when there’s a little fire in the ‘Mike’ linebacker,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s embraced the whole thing, being a linebacker and taking command. I love the look in his eye.”
Goodson has two sacks in two preseason games, a skill that’s been lacking from the position for the Giants for many years. But he also has been playing in some sub-packages. Many defenses have a middle linebacker who comes off the field when an extra defensive back is needed in passing situations. Goodson might be the rare player who can stay.
“I’ve been asked about being an every-down linebacker and I accept the challenge,” Goodson said. “I feel like I fit in great. The coaches, they’re going to put the best guys that they see fit in there. So, when they call my number, I’m there.”
And if they don’t, well, maybe Goodson will just call his own number. What he says goes, right?