When news broke (for the third time) that Perry Fewell had officially signed on with the New York Giants, a sense of relief overcame fans.
It’s hard to get excited over the hiring of a defensive coordinator just two weeks removed from the end of a terrible defensive season.
However, given the ever-shrinking list of defensive coordinator candidates, it is scary to imagine who the Giants would have named as their third defensive coordinator in four years had Fewell decided to join Chicago instead.
Fewell is no savior, but he will be a breath of fresh air. Out of all the issues that plagued the defense this year, no recurring theme was more disturbing than the number of receivers left wide open. How DeSean Jackson was able to get so open on so many plays remains a mystery.
These issues should be alleviated under Fewell. In 2009, busted coverages were more prevalent than profanity on MTV’s Jersey Shore. This is attributed to the number of lapses in focus or simple miscommunications on the defense.
George Wilson is currently a safety on the Bills and is soon to be a restricted free agent. Given what he told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, defensive backs that were making mistakes all season likely won’t get a chance to make nearly as many.
"If you get out there and consistently make mistakes, he's going to blow up.
"He doesn't like repetitive mistakes. He doesn't like silly mistakes. Hitting a guy out of bounds and getting a penalty. I saw that happen in one of our games this year—he just went berserk."
Someone book C.C. Brown for the next flight out of New Jersey.
After Steve Spagnuolo departed for the Rams' head coaching vacancy, Tom Coughlin decided that continuity was more important than an in-depth knowledge of Xs and Os. This is what provoked him to hire Bill Sheridan as Spagnuolo’s successor, rather than a safer outside choice.
That was where everything spiraled out of control.
As frequently as the Giants defenders praised Sheridan’s perspective on strategy, it was clear he had little grasp of what was occurring in front of him. This was made evident long before the season ended.
At a minimum, Fewell’s experience should put everyone’s minds somewhat at ease. While his Bills defenses rarely instilled fear into the offense (the Bills never ranked in the top 10 defenses during his tenure), merely a competent coach is a gift after 16 games of Bill Sheridan.
More importantly, Fewell is recognized as a motivator. On too many occasions did it look like the Giants players were going through the motions. They lost their edge and were never able to play with confidence. Fewell's renowned yelling techniques will likely take away any complacency the players may have.
Contrary to the rumors that say he coaches primarily within the Tampa 2 scheme, Wilson said that he likes to play single-high safety and get after the quarterback. Good news, because a Tampa 2 may have been too conservative the way the NFC quarterbacks are methodically picking apart secondaries.
While coaching may have been the defense’s Achilles' heel, some of the defensive personnel were simply overmatched. The linebackers were a combination of washed-up, old, untalented, and inexperienced.
The secondary wasn’t very good to begin with and dropped off further with a couple of major injuries.
And for whatever reason, the defensive line was just awful from September through the beginning of January.
The Giants' priorities in the offseason should focus on incorporating youth in the linebacker corps, adding experience into a young secondary that was exposed last season, and adding legitimate depth to the defensive line.
Otherwise, it may not matter who the defensive coordinator is.
On a separate note...
Giants fans, if you need an incentive to root against the Jets in the playoffs, I found one. If they go on to win the Super Bowl, they will open up the new stadium on Thursday night raising their championship banner. After closing out the real Giants Stadium with a win, it’s painful to imagine them opening it up that way.