Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sheridan Question

Getting back to the previous entry, a lot of you have been calling for defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan's head for a long time. But the outcry reached a crescendo after last night's big-play disaster against Philadelphia.

That's understandable. The Giants were beaten by, among other things, nine, count'em, nine big plays. Six passes of 20 yards or more, and three runs of 10 or more yards. And the secondary let the Eagles' only real receiving threat, DeSean Jackson, catch six balls for 178 yards and a touchdown in one of the great receiving performances in Meadowlands history. Among them were grabs of 60 yards for a touchdown, and non-scoring catches of 32 and 44 yards, the latter coming on a third-and-20.

And the heck of it was, the Giants played a lot of Cover-2, a defense that by nature is supposed to prevent the big play. The whole philosophy of that coverage is to keep everything in front of the defensive backs. And yet, Jackson got behind the corners and safeties almost at will.

Seeing how easy it was for the Eagles to move through the Giants' defense, it's no wonder the question came up as to whether Tom Coughlin has seen enough of Steve Spagnuolo's successor. But -- and you won't be happy with this at all -- the answer was no. As things stand now, Sheridan will be keeping his job, at least for this season. That, despite continued communication problems and a failure to execute plays that have been repped over and over again in practice. That, despite his unit having allowed a whopping 259 points in this 2-6 stretch, an average of 32.3 points per game.

At the same time, Coughlin said he's not particularly happy with Sheridan.

"We should be a better football team," Coughlin said. "Our record should be better than it is."

Coughlin said he's expressed as much to his defensive coordinator, while at the same time propping him up against an increasing tide of criticism.

"We talk every day," Coughlin said. "I let him know my support for him, and I also let him know (the defensive play) has to be better. We have to do a better job. The inconsistency part of it is disturbing. Six big-play passes and three big-play runs, you're not going to beat anybody like that."

A couple of the players also found it disturbing. Aaron Ross called the feeling "sickening" of watching DeSean Jackson blow up the field past safety Michael Johnson -- in 2-Deep coverage -- as Johnson pinched up to cover a backup tight end.

But part of the problem, as you'll see in this video, is that perhaps Sheridan is asking players to do something they're not comfortable with. Terrell Thomas said he'd rather play bump-and-run with someone like Jackson, a tactic that went virtually unused last night as the Giants consistently went to off-coverage.

That said, however, even Thomas and Michael Boley supported their coordinator, as did Mathias Kiwanuka.

"We have 100 percent faith in him,” Kiwanuka said. “He knows Xs and Os better than a lot of people in this league and has given us an opportunity to play and put us in position to win games and we haven’t done it."

Coughlin chalked up the deep play issue to field awareness rather than communication or physical deficits.

"To me, it's an awareness thing," Coughlin said, specific to Jackson's 60-yard touchdown catch. "Why in the world we're stuck on this backup tight end coming off at us instead of the knowlege of where (Jackson) is. He's the one guy, wherever he is on the field."

Whatever the case, Coughlin said Sheridan will not join John Hufnagel as his only coordinator to be deposed before season's end. Hufnagel, you may remember, was replaced by Kevin Gilbride before the 2006 regular-season finale in Washington, which turned into a Giants win that got them into the playoffs.

It appears that, for now, Coughlin will stick with Sheridan through thick and thin. And things are getting awfully thin right now.



  1. Ernie, can someone please ask TC just quite how many abject failures are enough before he considers changing things up?

  2. If I recall correctly, Accorsi made TC fire Hufnagel. I doubt Reese has that power over TC.
    Sheridan is what he is. He's not going to turn over a new leaf and get instant magical ability.. I expect he will be gone at the end of the season - maybe with Coughlin and Kildrive....hope, hope...

  3. I am all for burning Gilbride and Sheridan at the stake but do we really want to fire a head coach who won the Super Bowl two seasons ago???

  4. Ernie,

    My take is this, loyalty is an admirable trait. It truly is, and in the NFL it is almost a requirement given the fickle nature of fans. Plus the fact that it is hard for us to determine what factors are leading to poor play.

    However, I was very vocal in your game blog for calling for Sheridan's head and I stand by it. He looks completely lost at this point. Of course his players are going to stick by him and not throw him under the bus, but looking at his body of work some disturbing trends have emerged.

    1. Continued communication issues (this late in the season, this is inexcusable)
    2. Poor game plans (how do you get your butt kicked that bad twice in one season. Nothing learned from the first experience?)
    3. Not being able to solve how to cover a TE. etc., etc...

    I know we have had injuries in some key positons but he hasn't schemed very well to cover those issues. Plus there seems to be little or any in-game adjustments hapening.

    TC and Jerry have to look at the talent level on this defense and question why they can't get a better performance. If it is not the coordinator than what is it?

    Chris B.

  5. Guys, get off KG's back. He is not the problem! The guy is working with a gimpy QB, a banged up line and a young set of receivers. We expected inconsistency this year and that is what we have gotten. However, on balance they have played much, much better than anyone expected. Yes, he drives me crazy with some play calls but sometimes they work! He is not the problem, not at all.

    Chris B.

  6. Spags adjusted after TWO games and succeeded. i don't expect everyone to be Spags caliber, but 13 games is more than enough time to work out your flaws in scheming.

    I appreciate TC's loyalty and definitely don't think he should be cut mid-season, but if we continue this 30+ point average over the last 3 games, he just has to be gone in the offseason. he HAS TO BE.

    We're at a time when better options at D.C. can be had and I don't think it's rash to fire or demote him after this one season.

  7. I agree that, while at times, Gilbride has been infuriating, he has done a real good job this season and in the time he's been here. And I don't think firing Coughlin is the answer - he's also done a real good job since he's been here.

    And i can't stand Sheridan as much as anyone, and I've posted as much, but what can Coughlin or the players say at this point? It's too late to change coordinators and defensive philosphy. It has to be at the end of the season at this point.

    Changing OC's midseason I think is easier because you can just point to playcalling as a reason for failure, but on defense it could be the whole strategy or mindset. Coughlin has to say he supports him and who can he replace him with? Sheridan beat out the other two candidates on the Giants staff.

  8. Gogolacking writes:

    it would seem that Sheridan has an issue with asking his players for input. Terrel Thomas, let him play bump and run if that's what works. This is a classic case of new coach not seeking the input of their players. This was Belichek's issue the first time around in Cleveland. Every coach thinks they know all and don't allow the players to help with the game plan

  9. At the same time, Coughlin said he's not particularly happy with Sheridan.

    "We should be a better football team," Coughlin said. "Our record should be better than it is."

    If Coughlin thinks "we should be a better football team," maybe Coughlin "should not be particularly happy" with COUGHLIN !!! Sheridan was his hire just like Tim Lewis and its going down the tubes the same way. Reese needs to push Coughlin to make a DC change in the off season & get someone established whose scheme and personality fit these players. Too much talent going to waste.

  10. Give Reese some of the blame on this, Boley is signed and immediately has a one game suspension for off field incident, and is hurt requiring surgery. Bernard is signed and recently let go, 3rd round pick Barden, has not seen the playing field. We replace 1000 yrd backfield player, Ward, with...nobody. Our aging LB corp is replaced with.... Our immature CB group is backed up and mentored by CC Brown, when players were available...terrible job by front office last off season.