Jon Beason is not interested in the past.
"We have to start all over again," the linebacker said on a conference call as the Giants began their voluntary offseason program on Monday. "We have to completely reset."
That shouldn't be too hard considering the changes that have taken place on defense since the 2014 season ended. The Giants do not have a returning starting safety and let captain Antrel Rolle sign with the Bears in free agency. They cut their most tenured defensive player, Mathias Kiwanuka. And Steve Spagnuolo has returned as defensive coordinator, replacing Perry Fewell.
"Last year is last year," Beason said. "You talk about chemistry, from top to bottom we are different. Obviously a new coordinator who everyone has to adapt to and you hit your stride late because you spend that much time together throughout the course of the season and at some point, you hope a light bulb goes off and we start playing all in unison."
Beason has good reason to want to forget about 2014. He barely played because of a foot injury he suffered in the spring, tried to play on in the early fall, and eventually required surgery that he is still recovering from. He said he is able to run and cut but will follow whatever restrictions the Giants' medical staff puts on him during the offseason training.
Beason's last few seasons have been ravaged by injuries, but the 30-year-old still believes he has a lot to offer.
"I feel when healthy I am the best in the game, and that is my motto going into the 2015 campaign," Beason said. "It's no different. I'm going to be healthy every game and instead of talking about every game, my focus is the opener and to have practiced the whole week and go out there and play prepared as opposed to just playing [off your] will and your mental capacity based on how long you have been in the league and just being a veteran. I'm looking forward to having the mental part meet the physical preparation and going out there and being the best I can be."
In other words, starting over.
He said he has spoken to Antonio Pierce and Jonathan Vilma, two players who have been middle linebackers under Spagnuolo. Pierce played under Spagnuolo for two seasons with the Giants, during which time they won a Super Bowl and were the top seed in the NFC. Vilma played under Spagnuolo one season with the Saints, during which time they had one of the worst defenses in NFL history.
"They all had good things to say about him," Beason said of the reviews of Spagnuolo. "I'm looking forward to it and just trying to do my part and make sure I live up to the hype."
Beason is also going to have to take on even more of a leadership role this season with Rolle gone. But, he said, he won't be doing it alone and issued a challenge to his teammates.
"I think leadership boils down to want-to," he said. "People follow the guy who is really there for a purpose and a reason. If that reason is to be productive and win football games at all costs, then guys tend to follow you. For me and this team, especially losing a great player, great person and a true competitor like Antrel Rolle, I'm challenging guys to lead by being on time, staying late and studying, by trying to be blameless and do their job at a high level and be consistent at it. That is the leader that I am looking to follow. All the stuff about necessarily being vocal and the 'rah-rah' guys, at the end of the day, that is not what leaders are. You lead by example first and that's what I've always done. I concern myself by always trying to be blameless and playing hard, and throughout the course of my career guys have followed that. That's what I want. All 90 guys at this point, you are a leader. Come out and be that person."