You could go insane trying to figure out where the New York Giants' defense went wrong this season and what needs to be done to correct all their problems.
The truth is, they have just finished bottoming out and have begun the unenviable task of sifting through the wreckage.
Step one took place today, at the behest of distraught owner John Mara, when beleaguered first-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was fired.
He had to go, no two ways about it. It was under his watch that the vaunted Giants' defense completely disintegrated.
It was the second-worst defensive showing in the 85-year history of the franchise.
They allowed 40 or more points to opponents a record five times and surrendered 427 points, the most ever for a 16-game season.
In addition, they failed to provide sufficient pressure on quarterbacks, exposing their smallish secondary. This was the sticky wicket for Mara, who gave the green light to several expensive free-agent signings last March to augment the already teeming group of pass rushers.
Sure, injuries played a part in the overall dropoff of defensive production, but this was no ordinary dropoff; this was more like job abandonment. Poor tackling, missed assignments, and stupid penalties all contributed to the rapid plummet of this once proud unit.
Mara was so upset with the lack of respect the players showed for his family's crest by playing so heartlessly, he held a presser today to clear his conscience as well as his chest.
“(I’m) as disappointed as I have ever been in my life with this team, given the expectations that we had this year, given the roster that I thought we had and given the way we started out and given the embarrassment of the last two games.”
He goes on: “I’m unhappy at everybody. It is just not acceptable to perform like that. There are 8-8 seasons and there are 8-8 seasons. This one felt a lot more like 2-14 to me.”
And his take on the team: "…lack of mental and physical toughness and, quite frankly, a lack of effort over the last two weeks. That is just something that I never expected to see from this group of players.”
On his plans for the future: ”We are going to do what we need to. We are not going to leave any stone unturned.”
What he expects from Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese: ”The status quo is not acceptable on any level. I’m not going to get into specific positions or anything like that. But we need to do something, and I will be expecting them to give me their recommendations on what we need to do. And ultimately we will approve it or not approve it.”
Who Will Be The New DC?
Sheridan is gone and many believe former Coughlin crony Dick Jauron has the inside track; but there are others who will get an interview.
Secondary coach Pete Giunta was a finalist to replace Steve Spagnuolo last season, but he lost out to Sheridan. The Giants still value him and will perhaps double back and simply promote him.
The decision is Tom Coughlin's to make. They not only have to get a competent x's and o's man, they need someone to restore the image of the defense. Someone who can get that mojo back.
This could take time. Teams that didn't qualify for the post season are in the midst of reshuffling their staffs. The Bears may fire Lovie Smith; if they do, he may get an interview.
Eric Mangini could be bounced from Cleveland soon. He may get an interview, as may Romeo Crennel. Ted Cottrell is still available, too. Not that the Giants would hire any of them.
Then there's Rob Ryan. Considering the way his brother Rex has revamped that Jets defense, would it be too far out of the way to throw his name into the mix? Why not?
There is word that they are interested in Bob Sutton, a Jets assistant who was their DC under Eric Mangini.
No matter who they choose, the emphasis will be to put pressure on the passer. That is how this team is built and that is how it can get its image back.