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Patrick Graham during Giants 2021 minicamp

Patrick Graham during Giants 2021 minicamp

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was stellar in his first season in 2020. He knew how to play to the strengths of his defense, and even when personnel wasn’t up to par with the rest of the league, he simply made it work.

Of course, the play by the athletes makes him look good at the end of the day. But Graham’s scheme is something the Giants are confident in, that it could continue to grow into a fearsome group with the right people.

Well, with new faces at different facets of the defense now thanks to free agency and the NFL Draft, Graham has the personnel to really get creative and let loose in his playbook. He touched on that and more in his first news conference of the year at mandatory minicamp on Wednesday:

Big Cat knows there’s more work to be done

Getting Leonard Williams back in a Giants jersey has to make Graham happy. After all, he was his most disruptive player in the backfield last year.

But, even though he got his big, long-term deal, Graham says that “one of the most humble people that I’ve been around” knows he needs to continue working.

“He definitely understands and knows that he has stuff to work on,” Graham said about Williams. “He’s eager to work on it. I couldn’t be more excited to see how he performs. But the focus is on today and he’s strung together some good days so far. I can’t predict the future or anything, but with his attitude – he has the right attitude to be successful for the long haul.”

What Adoree’ Jackson brings to the table

Adding Jackson was a tad surprising for Big Blue because of the money they shelled out for him (three years, $39 million), but there was a need opposite James Bradberry that needed some filling. The 25-year-old offers some of the best man coverage skill in the league, when healthy.

“For Adoree’, he’s fast. He’s athletic. He can tackle. He can get his hands on the ball,” Graham said.

“His skillset, you can watch the tape and figure that out.”

Secondary depth will play major role this season

When Graham takes a look at some of the best offenses in the league, he notices depth at offensive weapon positions like wide receiver and tight end. Because of that, secondary depth goes a long way, which is why he likes where his DB group is at.

“For me, you can’t enough good DBs because as you can see throughout the league – just look at the team that won the Super Bowl. Tampa, they were like five or six deep at wide receiver. Plus, they had tight ends and they have another tight end coming back. So you have to be able to cover these guys. First game of the year against Denver, not that we’re focused on that, but they got a bunch of receivers with a guy who’s injured coming back there to add to that list. You can’t go wrong having a bunch of DBs.”

Will the depth this season, especially with the addition of more aggressive corners like Jackson and third-rounder Aaron Robinson, change Graham’s thinking from more zone to more man?

“I think, in our system, we want to be able to play man,” he said. “It comes down to third down, red area, two-minute where in this league you’re going to have to play some version of man at some point.

“We didn’t play a ton of man last year, but we still picked the spots to play the man.”

Graham on turning down Jets head coach interview

Earlier this offseason, Graham was a candidate for the Jets’ head coach vacancy, and the team wanted to interview him. But Graham decided to turn the offer down, sticking with the Giants going forward.

So does Graham not want to be a head coach down the line? Right now, it’s just not his focus.

“I love coaching football,” he said. “I love being a teacher, having to teach football. Everybody in their profession likes the natural progression. If it comes up one day, it comes up one day. But is it the focus of my life? Absolutely not. It’s not the focus. The focus is to coach ballplayers, teach, be around these guys. Do a good job for my boss, my head coach and whatever I’m doing, I’m making my parents proud and my family proud.”