Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is the fans' top choice to be replaced after this season and to be fair, they may be right. But to be fair to Fewell, the onus of the Giants' failures should not solely rest on his shoulders. Consider this...
His defense is on the field nearly 34 minutes per game, the highest in the NFL. You can make a case that his unit can't get off the field on third downs (and you'd be right - opponents have a 49% conversion rate) but his defense is beginning every drive with poor field position. In each of the first six games the Giants' opponents average start of drive was the 32 1/2 yard line.
The Giants have surrendered a league-high 209 points but the defense is not responsible for 30 of those points: Eli has thrown two pick-sixes, a David Wilson fumble was returned for a TD and the punt return unit allowed two to be taken to the house.
That aside, the defense has still been underperforming. In a system that relies on pressure, they have gotten little thus far. Their once-feared pass rush is on life support. All efforts to try to revive it have proved futile. They have five sacks in six games.
Fewell spoke to reporters yesterday:
On the pass rush...
Coach Coughlin and the players have been talking about getting home with blitzes and the pass rush on defense. How much can you do in a week to switch things up and help facilitate that?It really all depends on the football intelligence and then the chemistry of your defensive football team or your football team period. Sometimes when you have a group that’s working together consistently you can get very creative. So I think it really all depends on if the group is healthy, if the group is working together and then there’s a lot of different things that you can do.
Q: Do you feel like you have that group?
A: We haven’t been really consistent because of injuries and that type of thing. We have a new linebacker, so having him hear the terminology and understand the terminology and then respond to the terminology at a rapid pace… You’ve got to hear the calls enough and then work with the people enough to understand where you go, what you do and how to do it.
Q: How do you pick up the pass rush?
A: Sometimes you’ve just got to whip somebody’s ass and you’ve got to get to the quarterback. We can try to become more creative and do some things of that nature, but it just comes down to you’ve got to win an individual battle and sometimes you’ve got to beat two people and if the ball is coming out quick, sometimes you’ve just got to will yourself to get there and even if the ball comes out quick, knock it down. There’s no magical formula. There’s no scheme or anything like that. It’s like turnovers; they come in bunches. And sacks, they haven’t come in bunches for us right now, and we’re working hard to rectify that situation and it’s going to happen for us. We’re talented enough that it will happen for us.
Q: Will a couple of third and longs and a lead help in that regard?
A: Anything like that. Those things give you an opportunity to get more sacks, no doubt about it, and to get more interceptions, too.
Q: Have you been disappointed that when you send an extra linebacker or safety they haven’t been getting to the quarterback?
A: I expect them to win more one on ones. Yes. I expect them to win more one on ones.
Q: Is there anything you’re seeing of why they’re not winning those battles?
A: I’m not going to reveal that right now. From a football standpoint, there are some things that are happening and we’re going to fix that situation.
On CB Corey Webster (groin)...
Q: Corey Webster seems to be confident that he will play on Monday night. Are you as confident and what does he bring?
A: I’m very hopeful. Obviously, we have a couple more days of practice and so I’ve got to see what the next couple days of practice brings, but I did like having that veteran experience out there when he practiced the other day. He was excited to be out there and play. He had fresh legs and that was good. You’ve got a bounce in your step and you’ve got some fresh legs and Corey is a guy that can make plays and turn the ball over for us, too, so you like having that in your football team on the field.
On MLB Jon Beason...
Q: What did you think of Jon Beason last week?
A: I like what he gave us, especially in the run game. The in-line quickness, the ability to get to the ball and make a football play I thought was very good for us. Obviously, we have some work to do in the pass game.
Q: Is Beason going to wear the radio helmet this week?
A: We are seriously thinking about it and considering it. He’s a very smart and intelligent football man and we think he can handle a lot of those situations. We haven’t made a firm decision on it, but we’re leaning that way.
On creating turnovers...
Q: The defense hasn’t forced many turnovers as well. What are you doing to try and facilitate it?
A: Trying to make the players more ball aware and that’s all you can do. You’ve got to put pressure on the receivers. Your front and coverage have to work in harmony and when I say front and coverage work in harmony… If we’re playing man or whatever, we’ve got to do a good job of jamming the receivers to hold up the route getting down the field and then the rushers have got to do a good job of getting there and if we’re playing zone, we’ve got to do a good job of jamming the receivers so the rush can get there. Vice versa, if we’re pressuring… So we’ve got to work in harmony together.
On this week's opponent, the Minnesota Vikings...
Q: The Vikings are playing a quarterback who has had a couple of weeks off and is new to their system. Do you expect the Vikings to run a vanilla offense?
A: I don’t think they’ll be vanilla. I don’t know what they’ll be. Yes, he’s been there a couple of weeks. He’s a veteran quarterback. He’s had enough starts. The head coach feels comfortable enough to give him the reigns. I don’t think he wants to come in and run a vanilla offense. I think he feels comfortable enough that he has enough offense to come in and compete.
Q: He has a security blanket in #28.
A: Yeah. That’s a pretty good security blanket.
Q: Is Adrian Peterson the most dangerous running back in the league?
A: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. When I watched the tape… He was the MVP of the league last year and he’s dynamic.
Q: How important is it to keep Peterson contained and not let him get to that second level and third level?
A: It’s vitally important that we definitely keep him from that second level and if he hits that third level he’s got such a gear that you normally don’t catch him and he’s a very patient runner. When I say patient, you can contain him, contain him, contain him, and then ‘bam,’ he’s out. That’s what we’ve seen on tape. Teams have really gotten after him and have done a good job and once you vacate a gap or once you miss a tackle, he makes a big play.
Q: You’ve done a good job with some marquee running backs the last couple of weeks. Does that translate over to this game or is Peterson a different animal?
A: I think he’s a different guy. I watched him in the offseason study and he’s really good. I see guys hit him, tackle him, beat him up, punch him and he just keeps coming. He’s got an iron will and he’s just a strong runner and he’s got a great determination to make those yards and so we all have to be on the same page. We’ll have to swarm tackle. We’ll have to gang tackle. We’ll have to see what we hit and hit what we see.