You know it’s a good off-season when the biggest stir regarding the defensive side of the ball is where the defensive coordinator will be calling plays.
Nonetheless, many Giants fans appear to be worried that their first-year defensive coordinator will communicate with Antonio Pierce while sitting roughly 100 feet above the action.
Sheridan’s reluctance to call plays from the sidelines has resurrected memories of the defensive coordinator who preceded Steve Spagnuolo, Tim Lewis. In Lewis’ three-year stint with the Giants, he sent in his plays from the press box. Now, Bill Sheridan is planning on doing the same thing.
Lewis’ woeful stint sitting in the press box, coupled with Spagnuolo’s immense success on the sidelines, has provoked speculation that Sheridan’s reluctance to call plays on the field will be a problem for the Giants defense, despite his reasonable explanation:
“I’m going to work up in the box because you want to make logical, calculated decisions as far as play calling goes. That’s not as complicated as you think, either. If you plan correctly during the week, then you’re just changing your calls on the different downs and distances based on the personnel you have. I think up in the box you have a little calmer atmosphere up there; you’re not down on the sideline where sometimes there can be a lot of mayhem. I’ll be up there calling the defenses.”
Although consisting of valid points, his decision has not appeased a plethora of Giants fans who were enamored by Spagnuolo’s animation on the sidelines. Additionally, the Giants players may have grown accustomed to having encouragement or advice waiting for them after every drive.
In Spagnuolo’s first training camp with the Giants, Antonio Pierce acknowledged that he was pleased his new defensive coordinator will be with them on game day.
“Sometimes when you're the d-coordinator you're relaying messages to the assistants, so it's like you're getting third party," Pierce said. "They try to say it the best they can like him, there ain't nothing like getting it from the horse's mouth. The vibe, [Spagnulo's] energy, his emotions, it carries onto the players."
Pierce’s sentiments from 2007 likely haven’t changed much, but he should be quick to alleviate any issue by stating his indifference to Sheridan’s decision. If the players are professional about the situation, their performances should not be inhibited by where their defensive coordinator decides to call plays.
To refute the point that a defense can’t attain success when their defensive coordinator is in the stratosphere, the Giants should not look past the last game they played. Jimmy Johnson was coerced into calling plays from the press box due to a back injury he suffered in the divisional round against Minnesota.
All his defense did was not allow a touchdown in a 23-11 drubbing of the Giants.
Loaded with talent, the Giants defense appears poised to challenge the defenses of the '80s. They could be that good. With the return of Osi Umenyiora, coupled with the additional stacking of the front four with the likes of Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard, the Giants have a devastating rotation in the front four.
Moreover, the Giants fixed their issues in the linebacker corps by adding speed, in free agent linebacker Michael Boley and versatility with second round pick Clint Sintim. The Giants secondary is young, but is loaded with talent that could gel into a top unit.
Some believe the team’s multitude of talent on the defensive side neutralizes any potential issue regarding Sheridan’s whereabouts. Others believe it could stunt the overall development of the team on Sundays. While there are arguments for both sides, the only fact is we will find out come December.