EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Almost everything the Giants have done this offseason indicates they're switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. But that's not how new defensive coordinator James Bettcher describes his scheme.
Or at least that's not how he wants to describe it.
"Hanging your hat on scheme, you don't win that way," Bettcher said on Wednesday. "You hang your hat on the things that mean the most. And those things are being relentless, playing hard, playing smart and playing physical in the game."
That was the theme the 39-year-old Bettcher harped on during his first press conference in front of the New York media. He promised a fast, physical, attacking defense that will have both 3-4 and 4-3 alignments and "principles". He's certainly added some 3-4 parts -- like linebackers Kareem Martin and Alec Ogletree -- and the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul certainly indicates the 4-3 is probably gone.
But Bettcher said the reality is that his defense is a work in progress, and likely will be until he sees what works best for his group. Until then, he said "If you ask me who we are on defense, I have no clue."
"I think each and every down we might look different on defense," Bettcher said. "I can't tell you today who we're going to be on defense and really what we're going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don't just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program, until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we're striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we're really going to look like."
In the meantime, Bettcher did promise that the transition from the old Giants' 4-3 to whatever it is he's running shouldn't be that difficult -- even for the guys up front who could end up in a slightly different alignment. Overall, Bettcher said, their "job description won't change" regardless of how they align.
"I don't think so," Bettcher said. "I think if you're a three technique, a defensive tackle, and you line up over a guard and your job is to get off the ball and strike the guy in the V of the neck and press and separate and win in your gap, that's what you do if you're a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive tackle. That job doesn't change and that job description won't change for our guys."
And even if it does, there's really only one thing Bettcher will inevitably asking of his players: Play hard and play fast.
"What it's about, it's about playing relentless," he said. "The game is about playing hard, the game is about playing physical and the game is about playing smart. Those are things that our guys are going to do whether we're bringing five, bringing six, bringing four, dropping eight, whatever we're doing, whatever the field position is, down and distance, all that stuff. The thing our fans are going to see, you're going to see a defense that is going to run around, play hard, play fast, play smart, play physical. That's what playing defense is about."