Rolle to QBs: 'Throw the ball at me'

December, 14, 2011

AP Photo/Bob LeveroneAntrel Rolle wants a chance to make some plays in the much-maligned Giants secondary.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' secondary has been torched in each of the last three games.

But safety Antrel Rolle wants Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo -- the next three quarterbacks to face the Giants –- to throw the ball his way.

"I'm a ball hawk, man," Rolle said Wednesday when asked how he views himself and how his Giants career has gone so far. "That is what I do, that is what I love to do. This is my second year in this defense and I understand it like the back of my hand. Unfortunately, with injuries [to teammates] and things of that nature, I haven't been able to do what I want to do. And even when I am back there [in coverage], I don't get the opportunities that a lot of other safeties get for whatever reason."

Grossman threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening win over the Giants this year. Now, Rolle wants Grossman to look his way during the rematch this Sunday.

"Honestly, I wish teams would challenge me more, I wish they would throw the ball," Rolle said. "I like to be tested and I like to understand where I am as a safety. So, if I got to put it out there for teams to throw the ball at me, I am going to put it out there -- throw the ball at me because I want to go get it."

The Giants' defense has been reeling as of late, surrendering an average of 40 points per game in the last three games. New Orleans' Drew Brees, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Dallas' Romo each passed for four touchdowns against the Giants (7-6). Tom Coughlin's defense has had breakdowns in communication and mental lapses in the secondary against the high-powered offenses.

Rolle would love nothing more than to plug the leaky defense by making some big plays instead of watching a big play happen against his defense.

Since signing a five-year, $37-million contract with the Giants in 2010, Rolle has just two interceptions. In his last three seasons in Arizona from 2007-09, Rolle had a combined 10 interceptions and three touchdowns.

As a Giant, Rolle has had a variety of responsibilities, from spending time near the line of scrimmage to blitz and stop the run last year, to covering slot receivers earlier this season.

Rolle has racked up the tackles -- he had 87 last year and has 77 this season -- but the interceptions have not been there.

It wasn't until the last two weeks, when Kenny Phillips suffered a knee injury, that Rolle says he has been able to play deep.

"I do what I am told to do and I do it very effectively," Rolle said. "If it was up to me, I would definitely be back deep, hunting the ball and doing what I love to do. But that is not what is required of me right now with the position and roles that I am playing. I have to do exactly how my defensive coordinator wants me to play and I have been doing it extremely well all season long."

So when Rolle heard NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth say during the Sunday night telecast that the safety was "barbecued" on a 50-yard touchdown reception by Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter of the Giants' 37-34 win over the Cowboys, the safety was not thrilled.

On that play, cornerback Corey Webster let Bryant go as Rolle was coming up. Rolle said the play was disguised as a Cover 2 but was really a Cover 3 and that he was in the position he was supposed to be in.

"You have these analysts that figure like they know what is exactly going on," Rolle said. "I am not criticizing them and I understand in a lot of situations even what they see … but don't sit there and put someone on blast, 'Oh, Antrel Rolle got barbequed.' Like, you know, get out of here with that man.

"There is no one without any sin on our defense and there are going to be times where I do mess up and where I have messed up," he added. "But unless you know what you are saying, then don't say it."

Rolle has certanily done his share of saying things, including saying on his weekly radio appearance on WFAN earlier this season that if the Giants played the Redskins "100 times, they might win five." But he admits that he is not immune to what fans say and think about his play.

"I take a lot of pride in my game and in my craft," Rolle said. "That stuff matters to me.

"If I am wrong, I am going to say I am wrong," Rolle added. "I don't shy away from my faults. I am human at the end of the day."

The Giants' defense has looked incredibly fragile the past three weeks. But Rolle and his teammates know that if they win two of their next three, including beating Dallas in the season finale, the Giants will be playoff-bound.

And Rolle would love to start making some of those game-turning plays he made in Arizona in these last three weeks.

That's why he wants Grossman, Sanchez and Romo to challenge him.

"When you watch certain teams on film, they really don't attack us how they attack a lot of other teams," Rolle said. "I think a lot of times, big plays have come more so [from] what we have allowed them to do as opposed to what they have done.

"I played deep the last two games and haven't gotten any balls," Rolle added. "I'm just running around and trying to make something happen. As long as my defense wins, I could care less about my individual stats. It definitely weighs on you at the end of the day but as long we win, I'm winning."
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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