JONATHAN GOFF, Linebacker
When he was made a starter last season, his third in the NFL, Goff struggled with his new responsibilities. Replacing captain Antonio Pierce at middle linebacker, he had to make calls in the huddle—and audibles before the snap—for a defense that was breaking in its third coordinator in as many years. "It was a huge step," G.M. Jerry Reese says. "He did a good job, but he can do better. He has to see things a bit quicker."
The Giants finished seventh in total defense and forced the most turnovers in 2010, but they ranked 17th in points allowed. Over a four-game stretch last December they gave up seven and three points in wins over the Redskins and the Vikings but 38 and 45 in losses to the Eagles and the Packers. "One of the biggest factors of our inconsistency was the communication," veteran linebacker Michael Boley says.
The 6'2", 238-pound Goff averaged fewer than 40 snaps per game last year, but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell hopes Goff will get closer to 60 as he becomes more experienced with pass coverages. He needs to make more plays—his 75 tackles tied for 48th among linebackers—and put his teammates in position to do so as well. The Giants gave up 183 plays of 10 yards or more last year, which tied for the fifth-worst total in the NFL.
"We need to make sure everyone is on the same page," Goff says. "That's something that I have to take on."