How Will Olivier Vernon Respond to His New Role
After the 2015 season, it was very clear that the New York Giants needed to upgrade their defense. Jerry Reese was very aggressive in free agency and one of the players Reese brought in was Olivier Vernon. Vernon was brought in with Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins to help improve the Giants defense and help Big Blue make the playoffs.
In 2016 Vernon helped achieved both of those objectives as the G-Mens defensive unit was greatly improved as Big Blue made the playoffs. Individually Vernon had 64 tackles and 8.5 sacks at defensive end in 2016 for the Giants. Unfortunately for both Big Blue and Vernon was 2017 was a season of regression. The Giants had a dismal 3 win season in 2017 and Vernon was not as productive in 2017 tallying 37 tackles and 6.5 sacks. The primary reason for Vernon’s decrease in production can be traced to him missing 4 games.
With the poor play in 2017, a new head coach was brought up in with Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator James Bettcher. With the hiring of Bettcher, the expectation is the Giants will alter the defensive scheme and the individual most impacted by this move will be Vernon. By switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense Vernon would switch from playing defensive end to linebacker. While it can be anticipated that Vernon would be an outside linebacker we have to see how well Vernon can adjust to playing from a 3-point stands at defensive end to playing standing up.
Also, with the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul, Vernon is the Giant who will be perceived as the most legitimate pass rusher for Big Blue. Time will tell to see if opposing teams will plan on doubling Vernon or will they try to neutralize Vernon by using one player or a zone scheme.
The way Vernon’s contract is constructed 2018 can be an enormous year for Vernon because the majority of Vernon’s money came in the first three years of his contract. Most of the guaranteed money and incentives came in the first 3 years of Vernon’s contract which means if Vernon does not perform in 2018 and since there is less of a cap hit if Vernon does not produce in 2018 he could be cut after the season.