Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Every year, the Giants' defense, just like any other in the NFL, aspires to be at or near the top of the league
In 2012, however, the Giants didn’t even come close to achieving that goal, finishing 31st overall in the NFL defensive rankings according to the team’s year-end stat package provided to the media.
That stat represents a huge fall from the 2011 season, when the defense finished the regular season ranked first in the NFL as part of a Super Bowl championship team.
The players are confident that last year was not the start of a trend. However, rather than spend too much time talking about it, they’ll be looking to take action to make sure there’s nowhere to go but up.
“(Head) Coach (Tom) Coughlin has a saying, ‘Well done is better than well said,’” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “For me to sit here and talk about what we can do is just words. For us, we’ve really got to get in the mindset of going out there and doing it.”
However, the players also need to be put in the best position to succeed by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who—based on the results from last year—didn't have many answers.
While part of that was due to injuries that forced Fewell to deviate from what he had planned to do, a large part was also due to a lack of execution, especially against the run. Still another, lesser-discussed part had to do with communication breakdowns, something which the players and coaches have worked extra hard this summer to eliminate.
This year, Fewell is leaving nothing to chance, especially after losing safety Stevie Brown for the year to a torn ACL.
He's had his players experiment with some 3-4 looks in which defensive ends have been standing up as outside linebackers in pass-rushing situations.
He also has been flipping the roles of his cornerbacks, safeties and defensive ends more this year in an effort to get more production out of the talent he has. And he’s having his assistant coaches make sure that every player is on the same page so that the mental errors and communication breakdowns are a thing of the past.
It remains to be seen if all of these moves result in a more effective Giants defensive unit.
If it doesn’t, then it will be interesting to see if Fewell gets another chance in 2014 to move the Giants defense toward their goal of being among the best in the NFL.