The New York Giants sat with a gaping hole at safety this offseason.
The void is currently being filled by rookies Landon Collins, Mykkele Thompson and Bennett Jackson (a converted corner), alongside third-year pro Cooper Taylor (coming off injury that forced him to miss all of 2014) — second-year safety Nat Berhe has been out with a calf injury.
Finding a free safety to pair with the more box-oriented Collins seems to be a troubling task. Safeties coach Dave Merritt also pointed to a chemistry issue early in offseason workouts.
“The chemistry is what I’m really looking for right now,” safeties coach Dave Merritt said Tuesday, via ESPN.com. “You can’t have two cooks in the kitchen. I’ve had that with my wife and her mom. You can’t have both of them in the kitchen. Somebody has to go sit down. So you need to have one leader back there, and that’s what I’m still looking for. It’s elusive. I’m searching for it. If it’s Landon, great. If it’s Cooper, great. If it’s Nat, great. If it’s Mykkele, great. But I need to have a leader come up and emerge out of this minicamp and emerge out of training camp.”
Coupling inexperience with the installation of a new defense has made the process even more difficult.
“Very slow,” Merritt said of how it’s progressing. “Very slow leadership, as far as making calls, controlling the defense. If I give you a call and I tell you, ‘These are the checks and this is what I need you to do. If you see this formation, this is what you check to,’ the guys right now that I have are very slow at making those checks.”
In colleague Chris Wesseling’s analysis of the weakest defensive groups in the NFL earlier this month, he mentioned the Giants‘ safeties were just ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the bottom. So far, nothing this offseason has improved that ranking for Big Blue.