While much has been discussed about the New York Giants’ turnover in their wide receiver room, perhaps one of the biggest off-season changes not being discussed is who will wear the green dot on defense.
The defensive player whose helmet has a green dot on the back is the one member of the defense who’s in contact with the coaching staff between plays. Last year for the Giants, that was mainly Julian Love, but the safety is now in Seattle, which means the Giants need to decide who will take his place.
The player wearing the green dot is crucial because they are the connection between the defenders on the field and the coaches on the sideline. While they are often simply relaying a coach’s call, they need to be able to have an understanding of what the offense is doing that has prompted the call and make sure all of the defenders know what their responsibilities are.
On offense, the play-caller is always the quarterback, so there doesn’t need to be much hand-wringing over the strategy of who to choose, but the player wearing the green dot on defense needs to have the respect of both the players and coaches.
If a green dot player is subbed out for any reason, another green dot can replace him, so coaches can select multiple players, but, ideally, for the sake of continuity coaches choose one player to wear the green dot as much as possible.
The next step for the Giants is figuring out who that might be.
So far in OTAs, they have been rotating a few players wearing the green dot.
“There are a couple guys who have it on right now,” said safety Xavier McKinney, who also confirmed that he is one of those players.
“It’s a select few guys. Like I said, I don’t really know right now. Our focus is just having communication between everybody, being on point, and we’re just taking it day to day.”
It’s certainly too early to decide which Giants defender will have the responsibility of wearing the dot, but the players appear to be aware that the opportunity is out there if they want to earn it with their work on the field and in the classroom this offseason.
It’s certainly an opportunity that McKinney won’t shy away from. When the safety was asked directly if he liked wearing the green dot, he smiled and said, “I do.”
Another potential option to wear the green dot is newly signed linebacker Bobby Okereke.
“I don’t expect to [wear it]” Okereke said last Thursday. “Whatever is best for the team. I don’t have an ego about it. I know a couple different guys are wearing it throughout this process.”
Okereke does have experience wearing the green dot for a few games with the Colts and is one of the players wearing it during OTAs, so perhaps Giants’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be inclined to lean on the veteran linebacker’s experience.
However, for right now, Okereke is just focused on helping the Giants’ defense evolve and improve.
“I think especially with the linebacker room, just sharing my experiences, sharing different techniques, different drills we’ve done, different ways we’ve played coverages,” he explained. “Just trying to help the process as we go through it this OTAs.”
With multiple players qualified and willing to be the voice for the defense, it will be interesting to see who Martindale chooses in the summer or if he decides to award it to multiple players.
While we’re unsure how that will play out now, what we do know is that the battle is certainly on.
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