Despite the loss of Michael Strahan to the Fox broadcast studio and Osi Umenyiora to a season-ending injury before the first snap last year, the Giants defense still ended the season giving up only 292 yards per game, good enough for fifth in the league overall. Playmakers like Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, and Mathias Kiwanuka stepped forward and filled the void.
But while Umenyiora is set to return to the field, the man that led the Giants defense into battle from the sidelines has left to lead his own team. So what will the Giants defense look like now that Steve Spagnuolo is wearing a St. Louis Rams cap? For starters, they looked from within to find his replacement.
Bill Sheridan, who coached the Giants linebacking core for the last four seasons, will now lead the Giants defense onto the field. In selecting Sheridan, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin told the media that keeping the defensive train running on track was of paramount importance.
"Continuity is important to me, but the strength of staff is important, too. We've lost Steve, our coordinator, but it takes many, many people to be successful and to function properly. There was great harmony on that side of the ball. I want to keep that. I want to keep the continuity," Coughlin said.
"I want the players to know that the fact they have performed to a high level the last two years is, in a way, being rewarded. One of the coaches from the staff has been elevated to the coordinator's role and the terminology will stay the same."
Sheridan has gone on record saying he would not change many of his predecessors' defensive concepts and will look to compliment each defensive player's individual strengths. When his appointment was announced, Sheridan said that while he would tweak the defense, he's not looking to recreate the wheel.
"I'm sure, as much as anything, that's Tom's motivation for promoting from within [was] to keep the defense in place," Sheridan said. "You're obviously going to have a slightly different tint to it...but the system is in place and there's a tremendous comfort level with the players."
Antonio Pierce was one of several Giants who gave his stamp of approval on the Sheridan hiring.
"It's good to know that there will not be many changes," Pierce told the media. "Bill is a hard worker and is very familiar with the defense. Obviously, we did great things on defense over the last two seasons, and I am looking forward to what Bill will bring as defensive coordinator."