New York Giants: Can Jon Beason Fill Leadership Void On Defense?


New York Giants: Can Jon Beason Fill The Leadership Void On The Defensive Side Of The Ball in 2015?

The New York Giants are coming into a make or break 2015 with a lot of question marks. There are some voids on the roster that can be filled through the draft next week, but there are others that would require a more seasoned player. With Justin Tuck leaving as a free agent in 2013 to the Oakland Raiders, and Antrel Rolle leaving this past offseason for the Chicago Bears, the Giants are left with a huge void in the leadership department on the defensive side of the ball.

Those two players had been pillars on the Giants defense for many seasons, and with both of them moving on, the Giants will be hoping other players can step up and fill the void. With so many younger players filling important roles on the defense, there isn’t many shoulders that the leadership role could fall upon. One player it could come down to is middle linebacker Jon Beason, and he is more than willing to take on the role.

“I fell, when healthy, I’m the best in the game,” Beason said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “And that’s my motto going into the 2015 campaign. I’m going to be healthy every game instead of just talking about every game. My focus is on the opener, and to have practiced all week and go out there and be prepared, as opposed to just playing through will and your mental capacity. I’m looking forward to having the mental part meet the physical preparation and being the best I can be.”

While that sounds perfect, and is exactly what the Giants are hoping for, it is one of things we will believe once we see. There is no doubt Beason can be an impact player defensively; the Giants witnessed that first hand when they acquired him from the Carolina Panthers in the early part of 2013. The problem is seeing that impact on a regular basis, something that just hasn’t happened for Beason.

Since appearing in every game during the first four years of his career, Beason has been plagued by injuries the last four. He appeared in 15 games between the Giants and Panthers in 2013, but in only nine the other three years combined, missing a total of 40 games the past four seasons. That makes it tough for the Giants to count on Beason not only on the field for production, but from a leadership standpoint; it is hard to follow someone who is not around on a daily basis because of injuries.

But, if healthy, Beason is definitely a good fit to lead the Giants defense. Not only does his production look like something you would see from a leader, he is also willing to take on the role.

“I think leadership boils down to a want-to. People follow the guy who’s really there for a purpose and a reason, and if that reason is to be productive and win football games at all costs, then guys tend to follow you. For me and this team, after losing a great player and true competitor like Antrel Rolle, I’m challenging guys to lead by being on time, staying late and studying, trying to be blameless and do their job. That’s the leader I’m looking to follow.

If there is anyone on the defense who has a purpose and reason to play this season with something to prove it is Beason. He should have a chip on his shoulder about how last season went, when he injured his toe during the spring and was never able to recover from it, eventually needing surgery and ending his season prematurely.

Sep 8, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Giants inside linebacker Jameel McClain (53) talks with outside linebacker Jon Beason (52) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With his injury history, the Giants made sure to cover themselves with plenty of linebacker signings this offseason. With all of them being newcomers, and relatively young, none can be expected to be leaders right away. That could be why Jameel McClain was held onto, as he is the only other player on the defensive side of the ball with real leadership qualities, as he is long on experience from his time with the Baltimore Ravens and having to step up for Beason last season.

Another name to keep an eye on during OTA’s, offseason workouts and training camp, if he shows up, is Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants are content with allowing him to play out this season under the franchise tag, waiting to see if he can put together back-to-back strong seasons. While the Giants are hoping for solid sack numbers, they could be swayed into giving him a long term contract if he emerges this season as more of a leader.

He is only 26-years old, though, so it may be tough sometimes for the older guys to get behind him, but just showing the initiative to lead would be great to see. The Giants will be counting on him for a lot this season, but if he adds quality leader to his resume, he could be the next in a line of amazing defensive ends in Giants history, following most recently Michael Strahan and Tuck.

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Ultimately though, the leadership role will be presented to Beason first. He is an elder statesmen of the Giants defense at 30-years old, as the defensive tackle duo of Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins, 31 and 34 years old respectively, are the only players older on that side of the ball on the roster. He is someone that younger players, and really anyone on the roster, would gravitate to because of his personality, intangibles and love of the game of football.

He is a natural candidate to fill the void left by Rolle, and if he is in the building he will be a powerful voice the Giants desperately need to lead the younger players on their defense. The only thing holding him back is the injuries he has endured, so hopefully his words come to fruition and he is able to play in every game during the 2015 season. It would give the Giants a huge boost to have one of their vital veterans around for the whole season instead of just four games.

Next: What Are The Five Most Important Games For The New York Giants In 2015?

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