When the Giants promoted linebackers coach Bill Sheridan to replace Steve Spagnuolo big changes to the scheme didn’t seem in the cards.
This is true.
The Giants will still play an aggressive defense with a variety of pressure packages. Sheridan will remain committed to putting the best eleven football players on the field just like Spagnuolo. The Jim Johnson hybrid defense that Spagnuolo implemented will still be the base for Sheridan’s defense.
It is the small changes that will make a big difference in Big Blue’s D in 2009.
First, Bill Sheridan will be in the booth during the game not on the sideline. Spagnuolo was a great defensive coordinator, but a few times during games last year particularly the Browns game, in game changes were made too late to limit the big play passing game through Braylon Edwards.
This change allows Sheridan to be in a calming environment that allows him to see the entire field. He will be able to see scheme trends and pick them up better rather than having limited sight lines on the sidelines.
Sheridan can make the changes to limit big plays more than once in a game, something that hurt the Giants in losses last year.
How many times last year did a Giant’s linebacker get burnt on third and eight or nine? A lot. Weak side linebacker Michael Boley is the answer to this problem.
Boley allows the Giants to play nickel on third and long situations rather than a dime package. Playing two linebackers allows Antonio Pierce to roam free or double team rather than be responsible for the tight end. Boley will limit those ten yard passes on third down that Pierce frequently couldn’t.
Two other key personnel moves made by Reese that will help benefit this defense is bringing in Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty.
Bernard is a solid defensive tackle that will help plug up the run game. Most of all he is durable, something that Fred Robbins was not last season. Robbins is talented against the pass but always had a lingering injury that kept him either out of the game or from playing a majority of the downs.
Chris Canty is an end by trade but will move to tackle with the Giants. Canty brings a lot of speed to the middle of the defense that will help in rushing the quarterback.
The additions of Canty and Bernard, as well as Osi Umenyiora’s return will allow the line to remain fresh. Guys will always be energized especially in the tackle position where Robbins and Cofield played a majority of downs. Having a rotation with those four guys will inevitably put pressure on the quarterback as they wear down the offensive tackles. It will also help limit injuries.
Umenyiora is an elite end and having him and Justin Tuck coming at the quarterback allows the linebacking corps to sit in coverage rather than press, which will help create turnovers.
These small additions and changes will help the Giants do big things in 2009.