UPDATE: Ross agreed to a 3-year deal worth up to $15.3 million with the Jacksonville Jaguars on 3/19/12
Resuming his starting role as corner back for Big Blue this 2011 season, New York Giants Aaron Ross visited The Fast Life during the NFL Lock-out to discuss the difficulties from last season and how the team looks to rebound in 2011.
After a promising rookie season debut in 2007 totaling 42 tackles, 3 interceptions and 1.5 sacks, Ross struggled with injury appearing in only 19 games over the last two seasons. “The [plantar fasciitis] held me back the whole season. I was never able to really bounce back from it. This year I’m in shape again and ready to get out there and contribute like I did for the Super Bowl run,” explains Ross.
With a secondary comprised of four first and three second round draft picks, Ross has “high expectations.” “We’ve been talking to each other. Every guy in the secondary is a playmaker. We are competing all the time. It only makes us better,” states Ross who also credits the front four. “We have a defensive line in front of us to help us,” as well as Giant defensive coordinator Perry Fewel, who the former Longhorn feels “the defense is really gelling around.”
Ross finds a great deal of comfort in Fewel’s new system explaining, “He allows you to make plays off of the ball. You can spot drop and read the quarterback. Our eyes are to the quarterback now instead of our backs now.”
Due to the rash of injuries that have struck the Giants secondary, including this year’s first round draft pick Prince Amukamara and the season ending ACL injury to potential pro-bowl corner Terrell Thomas, Ross will rely even more than anticipated on that talent and competition as the Giants face a consecutive four game stretch of the high-powered passing offenses of the Eagles, Saints, Packers and Cowboys starting in week 11. “Well I guess that answers the question why we went out and got Prince,” jokes Ross, who is “sure Coach Fewel will have us ready, a game plan ready.” The Giants are expected to have their first round draft pick back in action from a broken foot suffered during training camp come the start of that four game stretch.
The first of the four will be the Michael Vick led Philadelphia Eagles, who Ross vividly recalls from last season’s 3rd down broken containment play that saw the Eagles QB get past Ross for a 70 yard rushing play. “I had an option to take two holes and I chose the wrong one. It happened so fast. I took one step inside and he was gone. It was a mistake. I hadn’t played Vick. It won’t happen again,” a now Vick-wiser Ross states.
Of course in what became known as Miracle at the Meadowlands II, the Giants, along with their 2010 playoff hopes, fell in defeat after the Eagles scored 28 points in the final 8:23 of the 4th quarter to win 38-31. “We felt like coach Fewel, as a defense, put in a great game plan for these guys, for Vick. I feel like we executed it all the way up until about 8 minutes in the 4th quarter,” explains Ross, for who the loss still stings. “Speechless. I don’t know how it happened. It hurt bad. I really thought we had that game. To have it so close in your hand, oh man it hurts when they took it right from us. It hurts. ”
The final opponent in the four game stretch will be the Dallas Cowboys, whom the Giants have faired much better against in recent seasons, including a 2007 playoff win which ultimately led to a Super Bowl victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Ross’ rookie season. “I think we kind of had it out for Dallas, my rookie year; when they came in, I think they beat us like four games in a row and that’s what really put a fire under our butts. I guess we have to transfer that on to Philly now since they beat us six games in a row,” laughs Ross. Moreover, Ross will also again meet with Brady, who he describes as a “general,” as the Giants travel to Foxboro to face last year’s league MVP who certainly will have revenge on his mind having seen the perfect season slip through his fingers at the conclusion of Super Bowl XLII.
The 2011 season certainly presents the NFL’s most difficult challenge for Ross, Fewel and the Big Blue secondary, but according to Ross, “Once the players get comfortable in their positions and their role as a team, as a defensive unit, we’ll be fine. We have all the tools in every position as well as back-ups in that position to be a great defense.”