I am a huge GMEN fan. Since I have Direct TV, during the last 4 years I have seen every snap the NYG have taken on both sides of the ball. This of course means I am fully qualified to comment on the recent opening the firing of Perry Fewell created in NY. Much has been said about the exceptionally high number of vital players the defense lost for all or most of the 2014 season. The team as a whole lost a league leading 20 players to IR. This wasn’t enough of a reason to keep Fewell around for another year when the HC is clearly on his final act. What may have hurt Fewell’s chances the most was the positive vibe the new offensive system has generated. A positive defensive outlook would enhance GM Jerry Reese’s position greatly.
The two courses of action that make the most sense are to (1) pursue a coordinator who’s system fits the skill set of the players on hand, or (2) hire a coordinator with a new plan and support him with the players he needs. COA 1 seems like a non-starter since the only difference maker on the Giants Defense is JPP who is not guaranteed to return in 2015.
Here is the play the Giants should make. Get as many young, pressure applying, blitz happy, speed on the outside minded applicants as possible and see who’s version passes the “it could happen test”. This needs to happen before the FA period is underway so a decision on JPP can be made early. The only decision really is how much will he cost? Any thought that he had a down year, or was less effective than he was in 2011 (his last fully healthy season) is not accurate. Yes, 12 sacks is less than 16 but what really stood out to me during this past season is that Osi and Justin Tuck were not line up next to him. That accounted for the loss of 4 sacks more than anything else.
With or without JPP an edge rusher is needed, and a 2nd would be welcome. This is where the speed requirement comes in. An active scheme with speedy blitzing LBers which every team other than the Giants seem to have would be great. Rookie Devon Kennard appears to be the type of LB I am speaking of. The Giants used him to pressure QBs the last three games of the season and it was effective. He quietly lead the team in Tackles for a Loss with 7 despite playing less snaps then most starters. Speed at OLB also helps in coverage against TE’s (always an issue for Big Blue), against bubble screens, and in covering the edge. Not sure if assignment or scheme were to blame but I still picture Russell Wilson running wide open against the Giants and setting the model the next four teams used.
Health in the secondary is all that is needed (yes Safety is getting thin and old). Prince Amukamara looked like a fringe Pro Bowler until hurt, Walter Thurmond III can press the slot, and Rodgers-Cromartie is effective (though not elite) against #1 WRs. This group can provide coverage for the four seconds required to force a QB to check down. If the OLBs can cover the check down (TE, RB in the flat, or bubble) through improved speed the Defense will become feared again.
Turn overs are always welcome and in the last two years the Giants have done a decent job at creating them. Broken tackles have not been an overwhelming issue but requires consist focus. An effective scheme will prove ineffective if one on one or open field tackles are missed.
So if I am sitting in a chair across from Jerry Reese that is what I am proposing. A defensive plan that includes holding onto JPP, assuming healthy returns in the secondary, adding speed all over but concentrating on the outside, a pressure and blitz heavy plan that puts an emphasize on setting and maintaining the edge.
I did not intend to describe Steve Spagnuolo but if he were to return I think most Giants fans would be welcoming.