There is no question to the Giants coaches, training staff, and fans, that Jon Beason has been one of the shining spots of this defense in a season that seemed doomed from the start.
Acquired from the Carolina Panthers in the middle of the season, many believed that Beason would be a non-factor in the defensive scheme, but the 28-year-old has proved to be more than just a small piece to a larger puzzle.
Beason comes into this week against the San Diego Chargers (5-7) with 57 tackles, just 10 tackles behind the team leader Antrel Rolle, who has played in four more games.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was not shy when praising Beason as he spoke with the media on Thursday after the Giants practice.
"On the defense, you don’t think that you need a quarterback, but you need a quarterback," said Fewell. "You need someone that can go in and command the front and relate to the back row and Jon has been able to do that. He is very good at understanding situations and then being able to talk to all of his defensive players and play the game at a fast tempo. It’s remarkable that he’s been able to come in midway through the season and learn the terminology."
Fewell understands though, that Beason has not been able to learn everything in such a short amount of time, and sometimes the coaches need to step in to make an executive decision to change the plays up.
"Obviously we have some things that we call and he is not as familiar with and sometimes it’s a little foreign to him or it doesn’t click as fast as you would like for him to because he’s not been through an OTA with us, he’s not been through a training camp with us," said Fewell. "Sometimes we, as coaches, have to say, ‘I can’t make that call or I can’t… Beason hasn’t done that enough to really execute that as well we’d like to.'"
Since Beason wasn't around for mini-camp in the offseason, many have even higher expectations for him to grow as a defensive player.
"Again, my hat’s off to him," said Fewell. "He’s done a lot of the things and executed a lot of the things that we would like to do at a very high level and there’s more that we can do once he learns the complete package."
One problem for the Giants is that at the end of the year, Beason becomes a free-agent, and there is some uncertainty growing if he will resign, but Beason claims he wants to remain a part of Big Blue.
On this week's matchup against Philip Rivers and the Chargers, Fewell noted that with several options on offense, Rivers has been able to pick apart defenses, no matter the coverage.
"I think the system that he’s running right now with the weapons that he has. He’s taking advantage of either man coverage, zone coverage, double coverage," said Fewell. "We saw some people, Kansas City double (Antonio) Gates and then hits another, so he’s got some good weapons that he uses and really he’s a smart quarterback. I think the biggest improvement I’ve seen just from studying him last year to this year is his ability to get the ball out quick."
While the Giants need a miracle to make the playoffs as this sit two games behind both the Eagles and the Cowboys, it will be interesting to see how they handle traveling across the country to face a team that is still fighting for a final spot as the AFC wildcard.