Giants defensive end Leonard Williams has known only New York as home during his NFL career. The Jets selected him No. 6 overall in the 2015 draft and then traded him to the Giants at the 2019 trade deadline.
He previously knew four different head coaching regimes, though, and the 2022 season has introduced Williams to a fifth as he embarks on his eighth season in the league. With any luck -- and if the vibe Williams felt during last week's organized team activities can be maintained moving forward -- Williams will also become acquainted with his first-ever playoff berth.
"The vibe I'm getting is the excitement people are coming into work with," Williams said Thursday, via the team's transcript. "I think guys are happy to be here. They're happy about the teammates that they have next to them. They're happy about the coaches that are coaching them.
"I think when you're happy about all those things that I just said, it makes it easier to come into work and have a great attitude and great energy, and it shows in practice how we're flying around out there. … it's just a contagious energy that's being brought right now."
Any optimism surrounding the Giants heading into the new season starts with head coach Brian Daboll, who New York hired following his wildly successful reclamation of quarterback Josh Allen as the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator. There's reason to believe Daboll can similarly help QB Daniel Jones turn a corner in a prove-it year after the club declined Jones' fifth-year option, but for Williams, the most significant connection will be new defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.
Martindale joined Daboll's staff in February after a surprising parting of ways with the Baltimore Ravens. Martindale guided the Ravens to three consecutive years as a top-three defense in points allowed before the unit dropped to 19th during an injury-plagued 2021 season.
Regardless of the results, which speak for themselves, what has initially stood out to Williams is Martindale's approach to reaching those outcomes.
"Aggressive, aggressive. That's what you hear about him and that's what we been seeing," Williams said. "A lot of people claim to be aggressive but they'll blitz on occasions or like when the timing is right. Whereas I think with Wink, he's like make them deal with us; we're going to bring it. I love that type of mentality. Like the way I'm seeing it, he's making the offense react to us instead of the opposite way around."
The Giants' 2022 version of "bringing it" will almost certainly hinge on the duo of Williams and rookie pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux -- Kyle Brandt went as far as to tab them as his new defensive duo that will cause the most havoc in 2022 on Tuesday's Good Morning Football -- and they'll need to bring all the aggression they have to restore Big Blue to a superior defense after ranking in the bottom ten in points allowed in four of the last five years.