For all intents and purposes, today was Perry Fewell's live introduction not only to the Giants' rookies, but to the area media as well. They had no trouble spotting him on the field, as he was the one yelling and waving his arms as he encouraged the youngsters to follow his directions.
Here's the transcript of our interview with the new defensive coordinator, who announced that, given his druthers, he'll call the games from the field "because that's where the game is played." He said he and Tom Coughlin have discussed it and it looks as though he'll coach from down there.
As for the Giants' dueling defensive ends, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, who have both gone on record (one more vocally than the other) as wanting to start, Fewell had a simple solution. "Prove it."
Here's the rest of what Fewell said.
Q: You made your impact known on your first day at Giants camp, yelling and screaming on the field:
A: Well, hey, that’s just ball. I’m excited about being here and I’m excited about ball starting. We’re able to get out of the meeting room and coach football. So yeah, it’ll hold up. It’ll get better.
Q: Is that your style, to be aggressive on the field toward the players and encourage them a lot vocally along the way?
A: Yes. I mean I enjoy and am passionate about the game. I enjoy communicating with the players. I’m excited about football. When they make a good play, I get excited about that. When they make a bad play, I encourage them to make a better play. That’s just the way I coach football.
Q: From what you’ve seen, players respond to that and feed off the energy a little bit?
A: Yeah, I hope so. I’ve been doing this for some time now and that’s just me. That’s my style.
Q: What do you think having the interim head coaching position in Buffalo last year has taught you?
A: I see the big picture more. When I was just the defensive coordinator, I was definitely just concerned about the defense but I didn’t see the big picture. So I’m able to see, ‘Hey, stay off the receiver (in practice) because that guy is really important.’ I used to just bang him and run into him and say, ‘Hey, it’s a defensive mentality’. I look at special teams and I see guys in special teams roles that can help our football team and I fight for those guys. ‘Hey, he’s a good football player and he’s a special teams guy.’ So I look at it in the big picture now.
Q: All these guys are new to you, but when you get five out of seven draft picks on the defense, that’s not a bad start:
A: No, that’s not a bad way to start. Those guys were ranked on our board and we felt good about where they fell in the draft. We are going to see if they’re worthy of those picks.
Q: The other point of that could be if you get five picks that the defense wasn’t as good last year:
A: Yeah. I mean you lose some players like Antonio leaving. We lost some players via free agency, and you need to replace those players also.
Q: Top two guys, Pierre-Paul and Joseph, how ready are they to maybe have an impact?
A: You know, that’s really hard to say right now because it’s only been one day. We are all learning to speak Giants language. They’re learning new techniques. They are in a different environment. So, really we are concentrating on basics and fundamentals. I like what I saw this morning in the practice, but can they do it over a consistent period of time? After we have a consistent period of practices, I’ll be able to answer that question.
Q: Did you get to communicate at all to the scouting department what you wanted in the draft?
A: I think the scouting department has done a great job over the years of bringing in Giants defensive football players. So, my agenda was no different than their agenda.
Q: How big is it to lose a middle linebacker like Antonio Pierce and how hard will it be to find someone who replaces him? How important is the middle linebacker in the scheme?
A: The middle linebacker is important in anybody’s scheme. When you have a veteran like Pierce, that’s very hard to replace because he’s an extension of the coordinator, he’s a communicator, he has to get everyone set. That will be very difficult to replace. However, I do think we have men in the room who can do that.
Q: Your team drafted Dillard, who is not a tall linebacker. Do you have any biases against 6 feet tall middle linebackers?
A: As long as they run and hit. I had London Fletcher. London Fletcher was pretty good for us. As long as they can run and hit and intercept the football, I have no biases.
Q: Is it a detriment? In a perfect world you’d have a 6’3” guy…
A: To some there is, but if you have speed, quickness, and agility. I think that football players, that have some natural instincts are football players. If you give up some size advantage, yes, there’s some size advantage you give up especially when you play against big football teams like the Dallas Cowboys and those type people. For the most part, if you’re a football player, we expect you to play ball.
Q: We have only seen Gerris Wilkinson on the outside and on special teams, but he seems enthused to compete at that middle linebacker spot. From what you’ve seen and know of him, how well can he make the transition?
A: It’s really too early for me to say. We have only been in the classroom. So it’s been just me watching him and observing him in the classroom. He’s trying to pick up the defense, and he’s trying to learn the language. I think he’ll be able to compete. He’ll definitely have an opportunity to compete for the job.
Q: When would you like to have that position settled?
A: Well, it’s an on-going process. We don’t know if it will be settled at the end of our mandatory mini-camp. We don’t know if it will be settled in training camp. It’s an on-going process. We will evaluate that daily. Hopefully, someone will rear his head, and step out and be the leader.
Q: Have you given any thought to whether you want to coach in the booth or on the sideline?
A: I’d love to be on the sidelines.
A: That’s where the game is played. I enjoyed being in the box because I could see the entire field, and I could make adjustments. But when you sit in the box, you sit in a sterile environment. It’s good to you as a signal caller, don’t get me wrong. It’s extremely good as a signal caller, but when I had the opportunity to go back on the field, you know, who wouldn’t want to be on the field? Who wouldn’t want to be there on Sunday afternoon at one o’clock with pads clicking? Who wouldn’t want to be there?
Q: As the coordinator, you were in the box, though:
A: As the coordinator, I was in the box some and as well as on the field some.
Q: But then when you were the coach, is that when you thought, ‘Okay, this is the place I need to be.’?
A: I’ve always thought that’s the place I wanted to be. Depending on who you work for, who is the head coach. Sometimes they dictate, ‘Hey, we like you in the box’ or ‘Hey, we like you on the field’, etc.
Q: How has the communication gone with the veterans?
A: I’ve had great communication with our veterans in just the classroom and in just the teach sessions. I found them very eager to learn, and I find them very eager to go out and practice football and play football.
Q: How do you feel about the pieces in place on the defensive line and how they’ll work together?
A: Well, when we get them all together in one group, I can answer that a lot better. Just the opportunity to have competition is great for our football team, especially at the defensive line position. I think that should be the strength of our football team.
Q: It seems that last year Tom was upset with the defense not being as physical as they had been, is there anything you can do about that as the coordinator?
A: While I would like to make guarantees, I can’t. We’ve started out by drafting Joseph and he’s a pretty big guy. I’m going to demand that we be physical and play physical. The Giants defense is a physical defense, and we know that from history. I want to return to that defense.
Q: Tom said he wants you on the sideline?
A: We have discussed it. I’m sure he does. We have discussed it, and his agenda is my agenda.
Q: Do you like to rotate defensive linemen?
A: I like for our defensive linemen to play until they fall out. So, if they are in there playing and if they give me 100% effort, and can still give me 100% effort on first, second, and third downs, I have no problem with that. If they need a blow, we’ll get them out. I like our best players to be on the field at all times.
Q: Does it matter to you that Osi says he wants to start, and Kiwanuka wants to start? Is that a headache to you?
A: You know, all those guys have an opinion of what they’d like to do. I would like for their dreams to come true. If they want to start, hey, prove it. We have a lot of football and a lot of practice, let’s just prove it and that will take care of itself.