Tag Archives: Perry Fewell

Tom Coughlin’s Final Days

I don’t plan on this being an indictment of Coughlin as a head coach, but rather an argument that his time as head coach for the Giants has come to an end.

In professional sports, unless the man is brilliant at X’s and O’s (and even then there is no guarantee) his time as head coach is limited. You can’t shout the same things over and over again and expect to get the same response from your players. I do believe the Giants respect Coughlin, but I don’t believe he can adequately motivate them anymore.

There are two games that come to mind when making this point. The Eagles game against Vince Young, and, more recently, the match against the Redskins. In both cases the Giants had a winnable game on their hands, but failed to capitalize. This wasn’t an issue of talent, but an issue of motivation. In both games, it seemed like the Giants opponents were playing harder than the Giants.

On top of his lost voice in the locker room, Coughlin has shown an inability to pick adequate NFL coordinators. On offense he handpicked John Hufnagel. Hufnagel was never thought of fondly by fans or media covering the Giants, and, after the 2006 season, the Giants forced Coughlin to fire him. Since then, Hufnagel has failed to find a job in the NFL and now coaches in the CFL.

Coughlin replaced Hufnagel with current offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride (a man more commonly referred to as Killdrive). Gilbride is not nearly as bad as Hufnagel was, and if he was fired I’m sure he’d find another job in the NFL, but he is not a great fit as offensive coordinator for the Giants. His expertise as a coordinator is in the “run and gun” offense, an offense that is not a match for what many consider to be “Giant Football” (the whole ball control, pound the rock type offense).  This probably explains why Gilbride has a tough time getting the offense into a rhythm. Having him call plays just seems to be like fitting a square peg in a round hole. He doesn’t have a feel for the run game and it either causes him to stubbornly run with no success causing 3rd and long situations, or to neglect Eli and fail to get him into a rhythm (this was seen much more early on for Eli. More recently, it has been easier for Eli to get into a rhythm). His best season as coordinator came in 2008 when the offensively line was so strong they were able to run no matter what the defensive set was. (Honestly check the tapes. There weren’t complex schemes, just an offense that could run it down its opponent’s throat. No one could stop it.)

To add to those problems Gilbride tends to run a more complicated offense than is truly necessary. Receiver routes rely heavily on options. Basically, on any given play a receiver isn’t told to run a slant, or a deep post. Instead they are told multiple different routes and to adjust based on coverages. This leads to the receivers and Eli expecting different things. (This season the big culprit has been Manningham…last season it seemed to be everybody). The most frustrating part about this is Gilbride’s insistence on running the same plays with so many young receivers the last few years. Instead of adjusting his offense to make it easier for the younger guys to pick it up, Gilbride ran the same system, and the Giants turned the ball over a ridiculously high amount of times.

Gilbride is not a terrible offensive coordinator, but his inability to adjust to his team has hurt his time with the Giants.

As for defense, Tim Lewis, Bill Sheridan and Perry Fewell were big mistakes.

Let’s start with Lewis. Since Lewis’ time with the Giants he has held the role of secondary/defensive backs coach with three different teams. He hasn’t lasted more than two years in any place. He was a good defensive coordinator early on with the Steelers, but for some reason reverted to a more conservative defense and was then fired by the Steelers (the only defensive coordinator Cowher fired in his 15-year tenure). With the Giants he resembled the conservative coach that was fired, rather than the aggressive one Cowher originally hired.

I’m not gonna waste my time talking about Sheridan…he was that bad.

Now for current defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Like Lewis he started out aggressively, and has become more conservative. He has blamed this new approach on lack of playmakers, but that seems ridiculous. First off, the Giants have plenty of playmakers. Secondly, the defense has performed astronomically better when they have brought pressure. The best performance they had by far was against the Eagles week 3. Remember that game? The one where Vick basically cried after the game because the Giants hit him so many times? How can our secondary hold up so well against that explosive offense, but we couldn’t afford to blitz Alex Smith and the 49ers. Perry Fewell is a serviceable defensive coordinator, but he is in no way anything special. His best attempt at getting creative led to a lopsided loss to the Colts a season ago. (Remember that game? No defensive tackles, just ends playing all four spots. More corners than linebackers. It took Caldwell Peyton all of 3 seconds to realize if he ran the ball they would win).

The only good hiring Coughlin made was Steve Spagnoulo. The thing is, Coughlin seems to be more concerned with hiring someone he is friendly with, then someone who is legitimately good at his job. In addition, he only fires them if management forces him to.

I like Coughlin, and I’m not entirely happy saying he should be fired, but this team is in need of a makeover. With the potential for a third straight collapse, no seems to be the perfect time to switch things up.

Ramblings of an Angry Giants Fan

I’m shocked, and yet, with everything that has happened this season, I should have expected this. Plainly speaking, the Giants are an average team. They are a .500  team now (7-7, essentially the definition of average in sports) and that screams inconsistency. One week they can beat the mighty Patriots, and another they can lose to Rex Grossman and the abysmal Redskins. (To illustrate how bad the Redskins have been this season: they are easily the worst team in the NFC East…a division that could realistically send an 8-8 team to the playoffs. Ouch)

To be fair, though, calling them inconsistent might be misleading. Inconsistent gives the impression that they are a talented team. Talent should not describe a team that has replaced its defense with a revolving door (I almost wish they did this…could it really be any worse?) With Tuck injured and Kiwanuka playing linebacker (WTF?!?!?!?!?!?! – yes…all those question marks and exclamation marks were needed. Trust me) JPP is the only pass rusher we have. Without a consistent pass rush, and a coordinator who refuses to send any blitz at any point in the game no matter what, quarterbacks are able to just sit back and pick the defense apart.With no defense every game is put on the shoulders of the offense.

Oh the offense. That unit we are depending so desperately on is a unit that ranks dead last in every rush category imaginable. Crazy. So really, the only working part of this team is the passing game. Eli has become a top 5 QB in this league, and has kept this team in playoff contention, but that is exactly why this team is .500. You can’t rely on one aspect of the game (no matter how awesome it has been) and expect to make the playoffs or be considered a GOOD team.

I know. That is a hard pill to swallow. This is the same team that was a top 5 team in terms of talent last season. How did we fall this far? Well first off, we lost a good deal of players from that team. Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, Shaun O’Hara, Adam Koets (super cereal about this), Rich Seubert, Jonathan Goff, Barry Cofield, Justin Tuck (really might as well be on IR), and Terrell Thomas. That is a lot of talent to lose. Not only were all of those guys starters, but all of those guys were great locker room guys too. Then you factor in Perry Fewell’s disastrous season as defensive coordinator, and a team with the maturity level of a 5-year-old (2-year-old….new born?!?) and you get this abomination we call the 2011 season.

I should be more specific about those last two points. Let’s start with Fewell. When he said he couldn’t blitz because he didn’t trust his guys in coverage he lost me. I was ready to fire him then. Are you kidding me Fewell? It is not like you were given the Colts roster. Kenny Phillips, Corey Webster, Antrel Rolle, Michael Boley, JPP, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, hell even Aaron Ross. Those are good players. Any decent coordinator would be able to work with that. The reason they struggle in coverage is because you have made things too complicated for them. This team is not good at thinking reacting. They like to attack. Look at Sheridan, look at Tim Lewis…then look at Spags. What was the difference? Spags attacked. This team has never been good at zone, they excel in man coverage and blitzing. They love being physical. PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS! I just don’t understand how he can expect to win by giving players like Grossman and Vince Young all day to throw. Any QB in this league will tear you apart if you give them time. Make these guys uncomfortable and when the game is on the line in the fourth, they will be too jittery to put together a drive.

This brings me to a quick side note. I like Tom Coughlin. I think he is a good head coach, but he clearly is done as the head coach of the Giants. The big reason I believe in that, is his ineptitude at picking coordinators. Outside of Spagnoulo, he has not hired a single good coordinator. What other Giant coordinator has gotten a second job. Sheridan? Lewis? John Haufnagel? (remember him). I’ll talk more about this in a later post.

Now to the second point. Maturity. God this team is immature. What was the shirt Coughlin had them all wearing? Talk is Cheap? Do his players know what that means. All they do is talk. They say how upset they are, how fired up they are, but when it comes time for the game they don’t show up. Then there was Jacobs deciding he doesn’t get enough carries, and Antrel Rolle and his radio station. What was that line this week? Throw to me? Well they did, and you got burned. Shut up and play the game.

The Giants still have a chance to make the playoffs. Unfortunately that has more to do with the poor performance of their division than it does with anything they’ve done. Yes, I hope they make the playoffs. And of course I would love a playoff run, but that doesn’t change the fact that come the offseason this team needs to have some big changes.

Collapsing

With the NFL’s lockout ending I thought I would put up a football post:

Something that has bothered me a lot during Tom Coughlin’s tenure as head coach is how poorly this team plays in the second half of the season. The lone season they performed well in the second half was 2007 when they won the SuperBowl, and even then I wouldn’t say they avoided the second half collapse we’ve come to expect.

In 2007 they started the season like almost every other season at 6-2 . They finished that season 10-6, posting a 4-4 record in the second half. Their victories came against the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. Only the victory against the Bills was by more than six points. Of those teams, only one of them had more than 7 wins, and that team was the Eagles at 8-8. Not really anything inspiring. Making matters worse, 2007 was the only season the Giants have won a playoff game under Coughlin.

So what is it about these teams that causes them to collapse?

I think the common point most people turn to is injuries. To their credit, 2007 was probably the healthiest they have ever been in the second half. That doesn’t really explain why they played so poorly before the second half of the Bills game that season. Remember, when playing the Redskins a week before, Eli Manning threw so many incompletions he made JaMarcus Russell look good. (I’m half convinced someone told Russell to watch tape of a SuperBowl winning quarterback and he accidentally stumbled on this game tape. It would explain why he didn’t think he needed to improve on his 48.8 completion percentage) That was also the season Eli completed more touchdown passes to the Vikings defensemen than his own receivers in thier game. In addition, I don’t think injuries caused the Giants to miss the playoffs this past season.

I used to think the Giants’ problems were with Eli’s poor performances in the wind in December; however, Eli has been arguably the most consistent part of this team in both 2009 and 2010. I’d even say he was the best part of the team in 2009.

This has caused me to try to think of another explanation: The Giants’ play-calling. Let’s be honest. The Giants really have not had stellar coordinators in the past couple years. John Hufnagel was terrible and so was Tim Lewis. Kevin Gilbride hasn’t been a lot better, and I still have reservations about Perry Fewell. The only years I was confident with a coordinator was 2007 and 2008. That coach of course was Steve Spagnuolo. While they collapsed with him as coordinator in 2008, that was entirely on the offense.

The biggest problem I have seen with the coordinators is their lack of adjustment. When Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick were coaching the Giants, they were spectacular at understanding what the other team was trying to do and adjusting. This has not been the case with coordinators under Coughlin.

I think the best way to show this, is the fact that whenever the Giants start to play poorly, they never turn it around. In 2006 they started 6-2 and finished 8-8. Those two wins came against an injury riddled Panthers team and a abysmal Redskins team that finished 5-11. In 2008, after the offense was stymied by the Eagles, the only win came against a Panthers team that bombed worse than the Giants in the playoffs. In 2009, they won three games after the Saints exposed them in their sixth contest of the season. My point is, aside from the playoff run in 2007, when this team starts to play poorly they never turn it around. That screams lack of adjustment.

In 2007 the big adjustment was inserting Bradshaw into the lineup and trying to pound the ball with the run, a strategy that worked well into the 2008 season. Of course Bradshaw only made it into the lineup because of an injury to Ward and a lack of a better option (even though he was spectacular every time he saw the field. It astonished me how stubborn the Giants were being with his playing time. I hate to say it, but thank god for Ward’s injury. That could be the reason we eventually won the SuperBowl) It also didn’t hurt that Eli matured significantly during those playoffs, severely limiting his turnovers compared to his career averages.

This season was the worst

case of poor adjustment. Early in the season the Giants were guilty of several turnovers. Instead of addressing this issue Gilbride mainly kept his offense the same, which lead to more and more turnovers throughout the season. I just couldn’t understand why Gilbride didn’t make the offense simpler. Perhaps this isn’t fair, but there have been a few people who point out that Gilbride’s offense is one of the most complex in the league. This can have its advantages, but when your young receivers are having trouble staying on the same page as your quarterback, you need to make a change. Gilbride never did and the turnovers kept coming.

On defense the Giants lost because teams realized they could attack the overaggressive safeties. When Spags had trouble at safety he devised ways to protect the back end of the defense. I will never forget the games against the Eagles and Bears in 2007. The offense was sputtering and the entire season could have been lost, but Spags kept his defense up to the task and, with Craig Dahl and Michael Johnson at safety, the defense kept the Eagles and Bears to 13 and 16 points respectively. Wow.

I truly believe if the last game this season was against a better team than Rex Grossman and the Redskins, the Giants would’ve been torched for the third consecutive week. Listen, I like Fewell. He is a huge upgrade over Sheridan (then again who isn’t), but he hasn’t wowed me yet. I don’t think the Giants have won a single game BECAUSE of him. Then again, it was his first season with the team, and I have to believe with another year he should be able to mold this defense into one of the top units in the league.

For better or worse the Giants chances in 2011 are hanging on their coordinators ability to make adjustments. They are clearly a top 3 team in terms of talent. Now can the coaches mold that talent into a SuperBowl winning team.