By Michael J. Basile (@MdoubleJB)

Vernon Makes the Transition to Linebacker

The Giants defense, led by new defensive coordinator James Bettcher, will implement a 3-4 scheme that relies heavily on speed, featuring Olivier Vernon as the focal point of the front seven.  We know he can rush the passer; the question now, however, is whether or not he can cover in space.  Covering a running back in the flat is an important responsibility, and one that few linebackers can perform with consistency.  These types of matchups are what good coaches look to exploit, and can be the difference between winning and losing.

The linebacker position should return to prominence for the Big Blue defense, as Michael Stewart @golferbad discusses in his recent piece. Michael points out “Olivier Vernon should also benefit from the position change as it will allow him to move off the ball quicker,” which you can count on as we’ve seen OV’s pass rushing skills.

What we haven’t seen are his coverage abilities, and here are some thoughts from our twitter followers in response to our question:

@NYGiantsRush: Can Olivier Vernon cover in space?

  •  The Giant Insider (@GiantInsider): “Will be an adjustment . . .”
  •  Tim Coffey (@juggbigt): “No chance”
  •  Jayjan (@jayjan300): “Nope”
  • JJ (@Tripplej7): “Yes”
  • DStacks4Life (@sportin4mines): “No”
  • Shane (@BigBlueforce2) “It will be a long year if he can’t”

One thing we know for sure – OV hasn’t been asked to do this too many times before in his career.  He is athletic, puts in the work, and has some of the raw ability necessary for covering.  This will be important for Bettcher to find out early whether or not he can count on OV to cover in space.  Maybe he can channel some Michael Boley.