It’s obvious the Giants defense isn’t what it once was.
But if you ask their defensive coordinator why, he makes it clear it’s not the coaching.
“We’ve prepared better than what we’ve played,” Perry Fewell said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “I think if you look at the tape we’re in position to make plays. We haven’t made plays.”
While coaches default into self-preservation mode this time of year, it’s hard to pin the blame for the Giants’ precipitous slide on one man.
They were seventh in the league in total defense in 2010, and won a Super Bowl a year ago. This year, they’re 30th in total defense.
But mostly, they’ve been awful when it counted most, allowing 67 points in their last two must-win games, which leaves them only a slim conditional chance at the playoffs heading into the final weekend.
“We’ve been in position,” Fewell said. “We haven’t made a football play for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been in position to make football plays, but it hasn’t gone our way.”
If there’s a sign that players know Fewell’s right, it’s that there’s no open or indirect grumbling about him yet.
“We won a Super Bowl in this system — I think that’s the main thing,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. “We had the same system that we did last year.”
“There’s a lot of support for Perry,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora added. “I’ll just say that.”
Of course, the Giants were trending this direction defensively last year, finishing 27th in the league. But their play late in the year was much of the reason they won a title, so that fades from memory. That’s added some insulation for Fewell, and any offseason changes should rightly begin with personnel.
He’s had chances to interview for head coaching jobs in the past (and the Panthers may have made a significant mistake picking Ron Rivera over him), and will likely continue to. But until he gets one of those jobs, he’s left trying to scheme for an aging cast which needs a re-tooling.