Saturday, January 30, 2010
Brookshier, who sounded like a guy you'd like to sit down with for a beer, was also a great Eagles defensive back. But that never seemed to get in the way of many Giants fans' opinions of him. Outstanding guy.
It's not a novel idea, having been tried with some success before. Jim Haslett, Mike Shanahan's new defensive coordinator in Washington, came there via his head coaching stint in the UFL. And I remember that other alternative league, the XFL, that led a talent-challenged Tommy Maddox back into the big league.
The largest pool of alternative talent, of course, came from the USFL. But then, they originally promoted themselves as a competitor to the NFL with an attempt to sign away legitimate draft talent. These other leagues were strictly for the lower weight classes -- the outright washouts and borderline rookie free agent-type guys.
Whatever the case, don't be too quick to look down the nose at Palmer and others like him. As a general manager once told me, as long as you're playing -- or in this case coaching -- any experience is good, even if it's not in an NFL organization.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Several reports said he's moving out of the NFL to become head coach of the UFL's Sentinels. The Sentinels, originally based in New York, are slated to move to Hartford, Ct., which is where Palmer resides. They recently fired head coach Ted Cottrell.
"Chris did an outstanding job coaching Eli," Coughlin said. "He has been Eli’s coach and confidant in the years that he’s been here. Eli and Chris had a very good working relationship. I believe Eli has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League, and I see nothing but continued improvement in the future.
"Chris was very well thought of here. Ownership thinks highly of Chris and so do I. We wish him well going forward."
Palmer, who ends a 38-year coaching career, came to the Giants when Kevin Gilbride was elevated to offensive coordinator in the wake of John Hufnagle's firing in 2006. He brought some of the more innovative passing drills to the organization.
"I really enjoyed working with Coach Palmer," Manning said. "Over the last three years we've had some great success and I've improved as a quarterback. He's a terrific coach when it comes to technique. He's great not only on the field but also in the meeting room. I'm really sorry to see him go."
Palmer and Manning grew close as Manning's success soared, from winning the Super Bowl to this year, as he completed his first 4,000-yard passing season.
"It was very rewarding to me to work with Eli, because you had a player who grew every year," Palmer said. "We won the Super Bowl. He was a guy that you looked forward to coming to work with every day, because he was going to challenge you and he was going to look for ways to get better. We hit it off from day one."
Palmer spent two seasons as head coach of the expansion Cleveland Browns. Other than that, he made his name as an offensive coordinator and a developer of quarterbacks, listing among his success stories the Cowboys' Tony Romo, and the Texans' David Carr, with whom he would reunite with the Giants. He was also Coughlin's offensive coordinator for his two runs to the AFC Championship game in Jacksonville, where he worked with Mark Brunell. He also helped Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe to one of his most successful years.
"I think Chris was an excellent addition to our staff," Coughlin said. "I hired Chris to be my offensive coordinator in Jacksonville. Because of my knowledge of his unique abilities as a quarterback coach I wanted him here and I wanted him to be able to work with Eli. He came in and we had a historic year here in 2007 (winning Super Bowl XLII). Eli had a great playoff run and Chris was a part of that."
No word on a replacement yet. Wonder if former Seahawks quarterback and recently-fired Redskins head coach Jim Zorn would be interested. He had a pretty good relationship with his players.
After you've thoroughly exhausted that discussion, I'd like to ask a football question, if I may. Yesterday, Perry Fewell said he's been studying tapes of last year's game to evaluate his players' physical skills. I ask you, what should his next step involve? Is it really necessary to find the holes in Bill Sheridan's schemes and discover why things went so horribly wrong last year, or would he be better served by going straight to developing his own schemes based on what he's seen on tape?
Aside from adding new players through free agency and the draft, how would you suggest Fewell fix this squad?
The floor is open.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I'm just sayin'. Glad the guy lived a long life, though.
Here's a couple of points that we've heard before, but bear repeating.
* He wasn't disappointed with the effort against Minnesota in the season-ending, 44-7 loss, but was with the lack of physicality they showed against Carolina in the 41-9 loss the week before. And he blamed both sides of the ball for the losses, not just a defense that appeared to quit.
* He still has trust in the locker room veterans that brought the Giants to a Super Bowl win in '07, but is "befuddled" and has questions about them in light of this year's downfall. "We're looking at everything now," Coughlin said. "We're gonna take it all apart and put it all back together, but it's going to be a total, total analysis."
* There are going to be changes, although Coughlin said he doesn't plan on cleaning out the whole locker room. "There's still a core group of players here who are very, very talented, and our expectation level is going to be very, very high," he said. "I'm counting on this group to come back swinging, just like we're doing behind the scenes in the offices as we try to get ready."
* Coughlin said "We've lost our identity and we've got to regain it," starting with physical toughness on both sides of the line.
* Safety Kenny Phillips appears to be on track toward coming back next season from knee surgery.
* His new defensive coordinator is "an emotional guy," Coughlin said. "He's very positive and an outgoing guy. He always has a smile on his face. I think the players will be energized by him."
Pierce was, obviously, one of the leaders of the defense. Perhaps the only real leader. And when he went down before the Denver game, there was a huge leadership void on the field.
Fewell said he'd be looking for someone to step up and fill that. Who that might be, he had no idea.
"As you go into minicamps and training camps, each year that person evolves," Fewell said. "That's what I expect after we go into OTAs and training camp. That person changes every year because the nature of your team changes. If we want to be a winning defense, I expect somebody to rise to the top."
For all of Buffalo's problems last season, turnovers was not one of them. The pass defense finished with 28 interceptions, second in the league, as opposed to the Giants' 13 that placed them 22nd in the league. Fewell said that was a combination of fast play and extra homework by his players.
"Turnovers are an opportunity," Fewell said. "If the ball's on the turf, it's our opportunity to grasp that ball. And if the ball's in the air, it's our opportunity to intercept the football. So creating turnovers is about opportunity.
"Looking at some of our defensive personnel, our front four had the ability to rush the passer very well. We had to seize the moment, and I thought we did a really good job of doing that in Buffalo last year. Really, the players bought into the system and studied. They did extra work when the meetings were over. If we can bring that mentality to the table, we can increase our turnovers with the Giants."
The Bills also scored two touchdowns off interceptions.
"I want to be fundamentally sound and multiple in what we do," Fewell said. "I want to be aggressive. I want our players to play fast and have fun playing the game.
"Definitely create turnovers. I believe you score on defense."
How well the players pick up that defense will determine just how fast they play. Fewell claims his schemes are not complicated in general. But it's not a free-wheeling scheme, either.
"They'll grasp the defense relatively quickly," Fewell said. "Will they be able to execute all the little things? The little details? That's what will take time."
That will be the interesting part. The Giants' defense has historically been one that prefers the physical, aggressive schemes. When asked to fall into the more passive coverages, such as the Cover-2 or zone blitzes, they have had problems. It will be interesting to see how Fewell balances those with the personnel that obviously struggled when placed in a reactive mode.
We're still more than a month away from the players' formal introduction to Fewell's philosophies, however.
We all know how that worked out.
Perry Fewell said he hasn't decided his future location. But he did say that when he called plays from the sideline -- he retained his defensive coordinator's job while serving as Buffalo's interim head coach -- he found himself getting wrapped up in the emotions of the game.
"I get pretty excited on the sideline," Fewell said. "I'm probably a little bit more controlled when I called it from the press box. When I called it from the sidelines, sometimes you can get caught up in the ballgame. You chest-bump a player or you slap somebody on the heinie or something like that, and then you've got to go back and gather your thoughts again.
"Up in the press box, you're emotions are a little more controlled. It depends on how those emotions are running."
Fewell wouldn't commit either way.
"I can go either way," Fewell said. "It's a matter of just being in that moment."
Those moments came few and far between for his predecessor, Sheridan, who was basically viewed as emotionless. Don't think the players will have the same problem with Fewell, who is known as a yeller who has no problem getting on players for obvious mistakes.
"I am who I am," Fewell said. "And I coach how I coach."
That's not exactly a big surprise, considering Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora reside there. But it did indicate that he might just think he can get by with the front and save the bulk of whatever rebuilding has to be done for the back seven.
"I think I have some talent here," Fewell said, cautioning that he has watched tape only to familiarize with his players' skills and not to evaluate scheme or the causes of last season's downfall. "I think the strength, as I look at it right now, looks like our defensive front. If we can stay healthy in the secondary and at linebacker, I think we have talent."
Of course, one of his biggest decisions up front will involve Umenyiora, the pass rusher who was demoted after the Denver game to part-time status because of his deficiencies against the run. Fewell has come away with positive impressions of him so far, and it sounds like he'd love to reinstate him to three-down status.
My guess is that he'll have new defensive line coach Robert Nunn coach Umenyiora hard on run defense to get him on the field as much as possible. But Umenyiora and the rotation Fewell decides to use will have much to do with that.
"I can't speak to what happened a year ago," Fewell said. "When I look at Osi, I see a football player. And when you're a football player, obviously you want that player to be on the field all the time.
"But in today's game, we substitute players so they can stay healthy and play the entire year. So I see Osi as a football player."
I would imagine that several long talks are coming up between Umenyiora and Fewell, as there will be with other components of the defense. Fewell said he's only met a few of his players -- he wouldn't specify who -- but has come away with positive impressions.
"I've had a chance to meet several of the defensive linemen," Fewell said. "I've had a favorable impression of all the men I've met. Very professional. Good-looking, strong men. They play the game excited. That's my impression."
He also said he'd like Tuck to be around from Day 1 of the offseason program to add leadership and better work himself into Fewell's new system, which he promised will be an aggressive one focused on creating turnovers. But that will depend on how quickly he progresses from recent shoulder surgery. "Will he be available?" Fewell said. "It depends. It's up to the doctors, and we'll have to do the right thing by Justin."
His next job will be getting past first impressions and discovering why that front four, and the other two, failed so miserably in 2009.
But at least he starts off on a positive note.
"I can't speak to scheme right now," Fewell said. "I can speak to talent level, and I see a talented group of men who can play football, who are football players. As I evaluate the numbers of athletes in that position, I haven't been with very many teams that have that many talented athletes at that defensive line position. That's why I say it's the strength of our team."
They didn't play like that in 2009.
Not much news otherwise. Unless Coughlin makes a surprise firing of, oh, say, a particular special teams coach, it looks like the rest of the staff from last season will return intact. Of course, there's still that lingering question in Oakland as it relates to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's potential to succeed Tom Cable out there. But Cable is still employed, and opinions now lean toward Al Davis keeping his current head coach.
You never know with old Al, though.
Oh, and before anyone trashes new defensive line coach Robert Nunn over a horrible single season in Tampa Bay, as one commenter did this morning, remember the whole body of work with Green Bay, Washington, and Miami. It's not bad. A guy's track record has to count for something.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
So the question is, does anyone not think DE Michael Strahan will NOT have a spot on that team? I don't see how he'd miss, considering he was probably the most dominant defensive end from 2000-2009, having ended his career after the Super Bowl win in '07. He certainly did it long enough.
The 12 announced members are San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, Steelers and Jets guard Alan Faneca, Seattle and Minnesota guard Steve Hutchinson, Jets and Titans center Kevin Mawae, Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Redskins and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Eagles and Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, Raiders punter Shane Lechler, Eagles kicker David Akers, and Browns returner Josh Cribbs.
Nunn has 22 years of coaching experience, the last 10 coming in the NFL. He was most recently the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay in 2009.
"Robert Nunn has been in professional football for 10 years and he has coached some outstanding players at every stop along the way," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He is a guy who did an outstanding job on the board with the X’s and O’s in the interview process. More than that, he is a guy who, by virtue of how he presented himself, I feel very strongly will bring the best out of the players that he coaches. He will provide structure. He will gain their trust. He will prove to the players the techniques that are important. When that happens and they buy into it, I think the results will come back for us. He will coach a very important position on our team, one that we will rely on heavily to bring us back to the level of championship play."
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who worked together with Coughlin to hire Nunn, was enthusiastic about his new assistant.
"We’re very excited to have Robert Nunn join our football staff," Fewell said. "He comes highly recommended from some of the other coaches throughout the league. He’s coached in championship games; he was the D-line coach for Green Bay when the Giants played the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. He has worked with a number of excellent players – Jason Taylor, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Bruce Smith – and he has 10 years of experience.
"I look for him to bring to our defensive line fundamentals, technique, toughness, energy and to bring us together as a group to help make us a good defensive line unit."
And, presumably, to keep at arm's length from the players he coaches. It was reported that Waufle's ultimate downfall was that he became too close with the players, and might have sided with Osi Umenyiora when the pass-rushing defensive end was demoted after the Denver game because of his inability to stop the run.
Nunn's forte appears to be coaching against the run, considering two of his Green Bay charges in 2008 -- Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett -- ranked among the team's top five tacklers that year, with Jolly setting a career-high with 82 stops. One of his major tasks undoubtedly will be turning Umenyiora around on the edge, and shoring up the porous middle.
In Nunn's first of four seasons with the Packers, 2005, that defense went from 25th in the league the year before to No. 7. That said, he almost parellels the Giants' defense as he comes off a down year. The Bucs' run defense finished last in the league, allowing 158.2 yards per game. The Bucs also finished 27th overall.
Nunn has also spent time with Miami and Washington.
And, of course, he has that quasi-military background Coughlin loves in his assistants, having served successively as Georgia Military Academy's defensive coordinator, head coach, and athletic director for nine years. In his eight years as head coach, he compiled a 66-19 record.
"I am usually impressed by people who came through the ranks, that didn’t have great jobs," Coughlin said. "He was the defensive coordinator, head coach and athletic director at Georgia Military. Because of that and some of the recruiting associations he made, he got an opportunity to go into professional football and he’s done an outstanding job."
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound interior offensive lineman from Idaho is opening eyes and apparently soaring up the draft board. Best of all, he'll probably be there when the Giants pick at No. 15. As I said yesterday, it's way too early to start divining the draft, but I have a feeling this guy's name might end up being in that cluster of candidates, especially considering the offensive line is entering a transitional stage.
Iupati is currently regarded as the best guard in the draft. He's quick, has 35-inch arms, and reportedly has a nasty streak about him. Might be worth keeping an eye on him through the combine and private workouts.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
"I have a lot of confidence in the staff that’s presently here," Fewell said. "Both secondary coaches have a Super Bowl ring. One guy (Giunta) has two Super Bowl rings. Our linebackers coach is well known and an excellent linebackers coach. So we just want to fill that defensive line (coach) position with another knowledgeable person that can help us get over the top."
Fewell also said he likes to run a "flexible" defense, which probably means we'll see a mixture of Cover-2, blitzes, and man-to-man coverages. He does tend toward aggressiveness and emphasizes takeaways, as Buffalo's 28 interceptions this year indicate.
Right now, he's learning about the talent he'll have available.
"I have to find out what the talent level allows me to do," he said. "I think we take advantage of what our talent level does. And if it is more of an attacking style, blitz style of defense, that’s what we’ll do."
But here's the basic rundown. As we speak, the college scouting staff, along with Jerry Reese, are down in Mobile, Al. talking to and watching the 100 invitees to the Senior Bowl, the nation's top showcase of big-program college talent. Some of those same scouts undoubtedly attended the East-West Game, which is another prime showcase.
The next big event is the scouting combine in Indianapolis, where 300 invitees will run, jump, leap, get prodded medically and psychologically, and will have opportunities to talk with reps from each team. And once that is over, schools will conduct private workouts, many of which will be heavily attended by coaches and scouts.
As you might expect, a lot of trees die during this period, as scouts compile voluminous sets of notes on each candidate. As the reports come in, the names go up on the value board in order of round, position, and numerous other factors. It's all very hush-hush, and the board itself is kept under lock and key, to be seen by only a handful in the organization.
Eventually, an organized list develops on that value board depending on need and strength of the candidate. The Giants, for instance, should have at least one defensive tackle in their first-round cluster of five or six players they expect will be available at No. 15. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a safety and an inside linebacker in there, too, since those areas represent the biggest needs the Giants have. But there will also be others, including the old "Best Athlete Available" that doesn't necessarily fit into a direct need, but would be an asset to have, anyway.
That's really how Mathias Kiwanuka came to be a Giant. With Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, and Justin Tuck already in the fold by 2006, the last thing anyone thought the Giants needed was another pass rusher. But there sat Boston College's Kiwanuka, one of the top defensive ends that year. Ernie Accorsi picked him at No. 32, having traded down from No. 25 with Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh. "Can't ever have too many pass rushers," Accorsi said.
It was obviously a best athlete available pick. Yet, thanks to injuries to both Strahan and Umenyiora, Kiwanuka wound up starting as a rookie. So things do work out sometimes.
Reese has tried more to blend the need with the "best athlete" philosophy in his three previous drafts, and has by and large succeeded. To further rebuild what had been a porous secondary in 2005, Reese used his first pick of 2007 on Texas cornerback Aaron Ross at No. 20. Since Sinorice Moss spent most of his rookie season on the sideline injured, the second-round pick went to Steve Smith. Jay Alford, Kevin Boss, Michael Johnson, and Ahmad Bradshaw also came in that blockbuster draft, all brought in for depth or direct need.
2008 should have consolidated the middle of the secondary for years to come with the addition of first-rounder Kenny Phillips, a move made in anticipation of the Giants setting safety James Butler loose in free agency a year later. Terrell Thomas and Mario Manningham also came in that draft as depth enhancements.
The elimination of Plaxico Burress (gunshot) and Amani Toomer (set loose in free agency) led to the drafting last year of Hakeem Nicks, a budding star that was part need, part best athlete. And the recognition that offensive lines don't last forever led to the second-round drafting of Connecticut tackle Will Beatty. Both wound up starting for part of the past season.
So you see, it's hard to say whether Reese will go need or best athlete available with the No. 15 pick, assuming he stays there. Trades are always possible. And who comes in free agency will go a long way in determining which position most needs to be addressed on the first day of the draft. Right now, middle linebacker, defensive tackle, and safety appear the prime targeted areas.
As I said, the bulk of the draft process has just started. There's a lot of film to study and many scouting reports to be completed before draft day.
Oh, haven't gotten that far? Well, here's the crux of it.
"It's 0-0 and we have to get away a little bit, but let's come back hungrier than ever," he said. "Let's try to get a home game. Let's play this game in front of our fans and our stadium, the new Jets stadium."
Actually, the connotation there is with an upper-case N, upper-case S, as in New Jets Stadium, Ryan's proposed name for the new digs that open next season. Hmmm. Sounds like he'd prefer the Giants in that new soccer stadium in Harrison, N.J.
I'm just sayin'.
Monday, January 25, 2010
In other words, he has no intentions of turning into another Plaxico Burress, who normally spent the offseason away from his teammates and quarterback Eli Manning.
"It was a big help because we were there working together," Smith said as he prepared to leave his Woodlands Hills, Ca. home on tonight's red-eye to Miami, where the Pro Bowl will be played Sunday. "We were trying to get on the same page and learn more about each other so we could play faster this year."
The work obviously paid off as Smith reeled in a team-record 107 passes and put up the franchise's second-best yardage number with 1,220. He also caught a league-leading 38 passes on third down.
But Smith indicated that he won't be slacking off in the offseason, simply because he has more work to do before he considers himself one of the top two or three elite receivers in the league. The voting this year backed him up, as Smith received first-alternate status. He only made the roster because Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald had to pull out with an injury.
"I need another year or two to do it to be able to rank myself among the top receivers," Smith said.
He also said his desire for a contract extension won't get in the way, either. Smith heads into the final season of his four-year rookie contract, and is slated to make $550,000. For a receiver who put up those kinds of numbers, that's a steal. Even if the Giants balk at extending him, he'd still be a restricted free agent assuming that 2010 will be an uncapped season.
But Smith said he doesn't plan on being a no-show, as so many others have been as they sought contract alterations.
"I have a lot of goals I want to accomplish, so I'll keep working hard and doing everything I've done," Smith said. "I'm not really worried about the contract. That's for my agent to deal with. I'm just going to keep working my butt off for the Giants and myself."
That will start with the offseason program. To Smith, it's just too important for him to miss.
"It's a crucial time in getting better and improving," Smith said. "When everybody's not watching, you can get some real quality work in your fellow teammates."
But there's something far more important going on this week. The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., a game that pits top draft talent from the North and South, begins practices this afternoon. General manager Jerry Reese, of course, is there, as are the Giants' scouting department.
The coaching staff, however, will not attend. That's not unusual. They didn't go in 2007, either, in order to save some money and get their new defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, up and running. It worked out well for them that year, so there's no reason to think it will hurt them this time around. Aside from actually talking to the players, something the scouts can do, the coaches can get most of what they need from the tapes.
Besides, there's a much bigger thing coming up. The Scouting Combine goes from Feb. 27-March 2 in Indianapolis, and the entire coaching world shows up for that. But rest assured, Reese and the scouts will be keeping a close eye this week on the Senior Bowl participants, especially those they project in their round-by-round clusters.
If you want to look in, NFL Network is televising all the practices.
So here's the deal. I'm taking off the moderation filter and going back to the old way. But I reserve the right to delete any offensive comments immediately. If you see a space and message that says "This comment has been deleted by the administator," or something similar to that, you'll know somebody overstepped the bounds of privilege.
So again, keep it clean. Keep it civil. And leave the non-combatants out of it.
We'll get back to you guys later.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
But I guess I forgot to say to leave the families out of this, yours and mine. Somebody just went way, way, way over the line, and we won't be hearing from him for quite a while now. Unfortunately, he has also forced me to do something I never, ever wanted to do, which is to censor this blog. From now on, all comments will be moderated, and I will determine who's comments are published and who's aren't. Sorry for that, but I will not have anybody's family attacked. That's not what we're about, and that's not what sports are about.
Again, sorry I've had to go through these lengths, but the guy left me no choice. Thanks to the rest of you for keeping the standards of this blog high.
Remember, if you wouldn't say it in front of your 10-year-old daughter in your living room, don't say it here. And leave everybody's family out of it.
Think there'll be anybody on Bourbon Street tonight?
Think Brett Favre will want to do any dancing in the offseason after the beating the Saints handed him?
My pick for the Super Bowl: Indianapolis.
Almost, though. Three-point game going in the fourth quarter, can't ask for better than that if you're the Jets. It just goes to show what happens when Peyton Manning gets enough time to pick out his receivers. Amazing offense.
Meanwhile, give the Jets credit, too. They played with a lot of heart. Sanchez did a great job, and who knows if that running game wouldn't have finally gotten going had Shonn Greene remained available.
Well, on to Minnesota-New Orleans. I'm picking the Saints. Wonder if I'll go 0-for-2 today.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
No, I haven't been caught up in the hype. I'm caught up in history.
It just seems to me that if the Giants could do what they did in 2007, it could certainly happen again. After all, there's nothing more dangerous than an underdog with a little confidence. The Giants were that underdog back then, faced with the impossible task of winning three playoff games on the road, including the No. 1-seeded Dallas and No. 2-seeded Packers, the last in minus-23 degree weather. And then they got to face the undefeated Patriots, and we all know what happened there.
The Jets? They're reversing the order, beating the No. 2 Chargers and now facing the No. 1-seeded Colts. The head -- the center of all logic and thought -- tells me the Colts should win this by two touchdowns. But the heart -- the thing that gives worth to all those intangibles like momentum and confidence and swagger -- tells me the Jets and their "ground and pound" game are going to find a way to harrass Peyton Manning into ineffectiveness and do just enough offensively to squeak this one out.
We saw it in '07. And though I've gone on record with friends many times that runs like that only come along once a decade, if that, I've got a sneaking suspicion it's going to happen again. Mark Sanchez will hit exactly three key passes, the defense will sack Manning four times, and the coverage will have at least two interceptions.
That's my prediction. Take it for what it's worth. I just think things are going to be very interesting between the hours of 3 and 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. Might be worth tuning in, whether you're a Jets fan or not.
As for the NFC, I'm rooting for the Saints, and not because I have any great love for Jeremy Shockey. It's Sean Payton I want to see in Miami. He went through a lot under Jim Fassel, losing his playcalling responsibilities and eventually moving on. He's a good guy, and he's got a good football mind. He deserves a little success, so he's got my backing.
I've had my say. Now have yours.
Friday, January 22, 2010
According to ESPN, Waufle signed on to become the team's defensive line coach. The only question now is who he'll report to. Davis has met with several head coaching candidates, but has yet to fire current boss Tom Cable. Guess it doesn't matter who leads that club in 2010, a job is a job. And Waufle's a good guy and a player's coach, so he should do fine out there for as long as the gig lasts.
Question here is, do you guys want him back? With Ahmad Bradshaw also undergoing surgery after nursing three injuries (two ankle sprains and a broken fifth metatarsal) throughout the season, is it time to start rebuilding that backfield? Remember, IRed rookie Andre Brown will be back and raring to go.
Assuming -- and there's no reason to think we're headed in any other direction than an uncapped year at this point -- there is a lockout in 2011, teams around the league are going to need to pick up where they left off in 2010, and the Giants are no different. It's the same reason Jerry Jones extended Wade Phillips through 2011. A lockout does not, and should not, presume an entirely lost season. If a deal is struck, say, halfway through the lost schedule, the league will probably try to salvage the remainder.
Imagine trying to do that under a new coach, a new system, a new staff? It would be virtually impossible. Better to stick with a coach and a philosophy that has been in place rather than have a new coach risk locker room confidence in a mish-mosh salvage of a six or seven-game segment.
For that reason, you probably won't see much coaching movement around the league as 2010 ends, for that very reason. It only makes sense.
Sound valid enough to you?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks ran his first mock draft, and had Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes going to the Giants at No. 15. A fine pick, but of course it doesn't take into account what the team might pick up in free agency. If they address the linebacker there -- I'd rather stick a veteran rather than a first-round rookie in the middle -- I think I'd go with either a defensive tackle or a safety, which in effect means a defensive tackle because you can usually get a good safety in later rounds.
They certainly won't have a chance at Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska, as he's projected as the top pick overall. But a guy like UCLA's Brian Price could fall to them. Brooks picks him at 10, but remember, they haven't even had the scouting combine yet. Once these prospects get to Indianapolis, their values fluctuate like volatile stocks on a bad trading day. Teams fall in and out of love with these guys, so anything is possible.
Anyway, let's get the first of what promises to be many discussions going. What position would you take in the first round? Don't be afraid to predict how the first phase of free agency will go while discussing your options.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Smith's ascendance to the roster from first alternate was a welcome event not only for a team that has now broken such a long drought, but for a receiver who set the franchise record with 107 catches.
"I’m really excited about playing in the Pro Bowl," Smith said. "It’s truly an honor to be recognized by the fans, coaches and players as one of the best in the league. I realize how significant it is at the position I play, by being the first Giants wide receiver to be named to the Pro Bowl in such a long time. I plan to represent my teammates, my coaches and the entire Giants organization well, because I know I would not have made it without their support.
"It’s a little bittersweet, because obviously I wish I was playing in the game a week after the Pro Bowl. But I know my teammates and I will work hard this offseason to put ourselves in position for a much better 2010 Giants season."
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Meanwhile, the Giants' Kevin Boss proved himself tough and smart, but was grossly under-used as a receiver for a variety of reason, most notably because he was needed to block in the many max protect schemes.
So here's the question. Given their relative impact on their respective teams, who would you want to see on the Giants? Is Boss sufficient. Should the Giants have continued to put up with Shockey? Should Shiancoe never have been set loose in free agency? You tell me.
In an odd twist, he might well end up working under another Giants former defensive coordinator. Mike Nolan, who just left the Broncos, is said to be interviewing for the Dolphins job. If they're smart, they'll take him, as he's always been one of the best defensive minds in the league. Nolan ran Dan Reeves' defense here from 1993-96. Among other things, he's the guy who gave Jessie Armstead, the soul of that 2000 Super Bowl unit, his starting spot.
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: Nolan got the job.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Both teams put linemen on the Pro Bowl squad, and since the game is being played during the idle week before the Super Bowl, there are guaranteed to be two openings. It's just a question of whether Diehl replaces the Vikings' Bryant McKinnie or the Saints' Jon Stinchcombe, and whether Snee replaces Minnesota's Steve Hutchinson or New Orleans' Jahari Evans.
Diehl and Snee will join Shaun O'Hara, the only Giant to make the roster in the original balloting. And wide receiver Steve Smith could join them if the Vikings' Sidney Rice has to absent himself. That would make him the first Giants wide receiver to go since Homer Jones in 1968.
Kind of an odd situation with the O-linemen. That unit had a decidedly off-year, and yet they'll now have three members going.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Can't wait to see Osi Umenyiora try to walk out of this guy's meeting.
* Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson are going to slice up Dallas tomorrow.
* Don't pencil in New Orleans for the championship game yet. The way Kurt Warner and his receivers played last week, and the way New Orleans finished the season, the Cardinals have just as good a chance as anyone to knock them off. Besides, I always like to see legends continue.
* The Jets won their playoff game. Nice story. Good launching point for next season. Now it's time for them to go home.
* Ray Rice has a special place in my heart because he's a Westchester kid, but Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne will take care of Balitmore.
As for that Dallas-Minnesota game tomorrow, I should probably hedge my bets here. I was in the Metrodome in 1998 when Dan Reeves' Falcons beat the Vikings, who had set the record for the most points in a season, in overtime of the NFC Championship game. Gary Anderson, who had been perfect in field goals that year, had a chance to win it with 2:07 left in regulation -- AND MISSED! And then Morten Andersen, won it with an overtime field goal. Eeriest feeling I ever had, hearing that deafeningly loud crowd screaming their heads off as Andersen lined up for the game-winning 38-yarder, and then falling dead silent as the ball sailed between the uprights.
Point here is that Minnesota has not exactly been invincible at home in the playoffs. The 8-0 home record this year guarantees nothing. But I still think the Vikes win.
Friday, January 15, 2010
At the same time, they'll run ads during the playoff games valued at $1.5 million, featuring Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Chargers defensive end Jacques Cesaire, both of Hatian descent.
These organizations get a pretty good going over from this blog from time to time, especially when they can't figure out how to split billions of dollars in profit equitably between players and owners. But this is a good thing, and they deserve a pat on the back. Better yet, let them serve as an example to be followed.
Let's go down the list and see who should be in, and who should be out. As we know already, Fewell will be in the market for a defensive line coach, now that Mike Waufle has been sent packing. As for the others:
Jim Hermann: No matter how you slice it, the linebackers were a disaster this year. It's a wonder how Hermann wasn't let go already. You want to get Redskins linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti into the program? Here's your chance.
Pete Giunta: A lot of folks might think that he should be the first one out the door, considering how poorly the secondary played this year. But Fewell is going to need somebody to implement that Cover-2 on a positional level, and Giunta can do that. Unless Fewell has identified someone as an up-and-coming genius, he would do well to stick with the man Coughlin considered as a replacement for Steve Spagnuolo before naming Bill Sheridan.
David Merritt: The safeties coach is a good teacher who, because of injuries, wound up with a class of dunces this year. Still, Fewell might want to give someone else a chance here. He's probably be out.
As this New York Times article by my good friend Judy Battista shows, the Giants apparently weren't the only defense who couldn't cover a tight end this year. She notes that a good tight end became an invaluable weapon in the passing game this year, with numerous ones victimizing defenses on a weekly basis.
Of course, the Giants' problems were huge, having given up seven passes of over 20 yards this year to tight ends. And let's not even talk about the overall picture that saw tight ends pick up mountains of cumulative yardage against linebackers and safeties who left them free down downfield.
New defensive coordinator Perry Fewell should certainly clip himself a copy of it, as fixing this problem will be a top priority for him. And don't be surprised if this growing phenomenon forces the Giants to draft a fast, coverage linebacker at some point on the first day, perhaps with the 15th pick in the first round.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Perry Fewell, 47, former Buffalo defensive coordinator and interim coach, agreed to terms a few minutes ago to become the defensive coordinator of the Giants.
"I am ecstatic to come to work for the New York Giants," Fewell said. "It’s a good football team with good defensive players, and it is a franchise known for defense."
It wasn't exactly a long search, as former DC Bill Sheridan was just fired a week and a half ago. But the last few hours were interesting as Fewell weighed offers from both the Giants and the Bears. In the end, Fewell went with his old boss, Tom Coughlin, for whom he served as secondary coach in Jacksonville from 1998-2002.
Coughlin left no doubt that Fewell will have to roll up his sleeves immediately to fix a unit that bordered on an embarrassment to the franchise.
"I expect Perry to bring the same qualities that I expect from myself," said Coughlin. "I want him to be firm, fair, honest and demanding. My expectation is that he will solidify and unify our defense and be an outstanding teacher. I want energy, enthusiasm, toughness and to make the necessary corrections and game adjustments. Perry is a teacher and a leader and I thought he did an outstanding job of displaying great leadership as the interim head coach of Buffalo this season."
In Fewell, the Giants get a coordinator who will stick with the 4-3 front and probably run Cover-2 in the back. But Fewell does have a reputation for changing things up, and he's not afraid to blitz. His run defense wasn't good this year, but his pass defense wound up with 28 interceptions, second highest in the league. His defenses, though not statistically overwhelming, were known for their takeaway potential, which is something Coughlin liked.
"His defenses have consistently done a good job taking the ball away," Coughlin said.
Fewell said working under the demanding Coughlin those five years developed attributes that would come in handy as he advanced his coaching career.
"I was a young coach, and he helped develop my philosophy of the game, the discipline, the know-how, the toughness that it takes and the attention to detail," Fewell said. "Being prepared. That is what he instilled."
Now, Coughlin expects Fewell to instill a fire in a defense that too often seemed to lack the enthusiasm and the will to succeed.
So that's that. Now the Giants can concentrate on getting a defensive line coach. And don't be surprised to see a few more defensive coaches go, as I'm sure Fewell will have a few ideas of his own for his staff.
Bettis made his remarks to Chris Russo on Sirius XM Radio today. Here's a partial transcript of the spot.
Host/Chris Russo: “Will we ever see Cowher on the field again?”
Jerome Bettis: “You’re going to see him up close and personal. I think he’s going to be with the Giants. I believe he’s going to be with the Giants. I think that’s the team that he really coveted. This is where he always wanted to be. The Mara family, he’s been very close to them. … He’s known them very well and was on the inside track, before the Giants won the Super Bowl, for that job and I think he’s holding out for that opportunity if it presents itself.”
Russo: “So you think if Coughlin didn’t make a run you think Cowher would have gotten the job.”
Bettis: “He would have definitely gotten the job and if Coughlin doesn’t get that team back in the right direction next year I think they’ll pull the plug.”
Russo: “That’s a very tough call. I’m not sure. He’s older, Tom. But you think Cowher is going to sit…”
Bettis: “That’s what he’s doing.”
Russo: “You think the Giants is what he’s got his eyes on.”
Bettis: “That’s where he’s got his eyes. … Let me tell you the one thing I do know. I do know, because he told me, he doesn’t want to go anywhere that doesn’t have an established quarterback. He said he’s tired of doing the let me find a quarterback thing because in Pittsburgh he never had a quarterback until Roethlisberger and then he was like, ‘Hey, I’m ready to go. I finally got a quarterback.’ That’s not what he’s going to do again. He’s going to have an established quarterback wherever he goes.”
Now, for anyone thinking this is going to happen immediately, think again. Coughlin isn't going anywhere this year, and there may well be a lockout in 2011. Now, you have to ask yourself, do you think Cowher wants to sit around for two more years?
I'm not sure.
Just an interesting little tidbit while we await the Giants' new defensive coordinator.
New England fired its DC a few minutes ago and the immediate in-house front-runner to succeed Dean Pees is: linebackers coach Matt Patricia.
Apparently, Johnson's name doesn't immediately spring to the mind of the eminent Bill Belichick, either, in regard to high-level coaching vacancies.
He's apparently a fairly hard-nosed guy in the meeting rooms, unafraid to call out players if they mess up. Might be the kind of "accountability" guy the Giants defense needs right now.
Oh, and about director of college scouting Marc Ross' potential as Seattle's new GM? He's apparently out of the running. The Seahawks are reportedly choosing between former Titans GM Floyd Reese and the Steelers' Omar Kahn, which means Ross' eye for collegiate talent will be staying right where it's needed for now.
Me? I'm not moving to New Jersey. Nor will I make any definitive statement. Sounds like we've heard this song before, like first thing this morning. I'll believe it when it gets done.
Well, that will never happen now. For one thing, Giants special teams coach Tom Quinn still has his job. And for another, division foe Philadelphia just hired him. So now, instead of April perhaps turning around one of the worst units in the league, the Giants will now face him twice a year. If you thought DeSean Jackson gave them headaches this year, it'll be interesting to see what happens under the highly-accomplished April next season.
Meanwhile, still no word on the progress of Perry Fewell's apparent double-sided talks with the Giants and Bears. Word from my guy Ralph has it that this may not be resolved until the weekend.
For one, they'll get someone who has already worked with Tom Coughlin, having served as Coughlin's secondary coach from 1998-2002 in Jacksonville. In 1999, Fewell had safety Carnell Lake go to the Pro Bowl.
He most recently served Buffalo as its defensive coordinator since 2006, and has actually done a nice job. The Bills ranked second among NFL defenses in 2006, and in 2008 ranked second in the AFC in tackles for losses. They didn't do so well this year, however, pulling in at No. 19 in overall defense. The Bills, which played a 4-3 up front, did finish second in the league with 30 interceptions. That's proof Fewell's basic Cover-2 philosophy can work with the proper personnel. And that's with the Bills making just 32 sacks, tying them for 18th with the Giants.
The question is whether the Giants have the players for that type of defense. One might think that an aggressive safety like Kenny Phillips, returning from knee surgery next year, might be wasted in a passive, read-and-react-type scheme as that.
There's a little background for you. Now, all we need is a signed contract and this search can be over. But keep in mind a report out of Chicago indicates Fewell is also talking to the Bears. Obviously, he's trying to get up a bidding war -- a battle the Giants could well lose.
Things don't seem as sure as they did an hour ago.
The report said Fewell hasn't let the Giants know of his decision, but an intermediary has told the Giants that they can expect to land their man.
Sounds like this is going to develop throughout the day.
Can't blame him, really. But given the Bills' actions since he interviewed, one might think he'd be better off letting Buffalo go. Right now, they're trying to get Arizona asssistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm in for a talk. Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was also in, and the Bills are believed to have spoken to Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.
Sounds to me like Fewell isn't on the front-runner's list there. And if he waits much longer, he might not even wind up at the top of the Giants' list, especially if Jets linebacker coach Bob Sutton's season end's Sunday in San Diego. Then again, as I said previously, I'm not sure Fewell is the right guy for this defense, anyway. But from Fewell's end, he might be making a mistake waiting on Buffalo, if in fact that is what he's doing.
As much as we'd all love for this to be over with, I guess the emphasis here is not on speed, but in finding the right guy. And somehow, I'm not sure if Fewell would be the right one, though he does appear at the top of the list right now by virtue of the fact that the Giants haven't interviewed anyone else, at least to my knowlege. Not sure if they want to go back to the days of "read and react" considering how poorly it worked then.
That's what Cover-2 is, read and react. It's not an aggressive scheme, but rather one that depends on players picking things up pre-snap and then acting accordingly. The Giants have never done that very well.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, no matter who the Giants get, he needs to come from an aggressive mindset. And finding someone like that now that Romeo Crennel and Jim Haslett are off the boards could take some time.
Besides, there could be competition, too. One possibility, Washington secondary coach Jerry Gray, could be interviewing for Seattle's defensive coordinator's job as early as today.
Redskins linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, whose father, Tom, coached up here, was also rumored as a possible Giants candidate.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The whole list is on their website now. But here's just an example. You can get a stadium seat for $499, or a seatback for $99. They've also got pieces of the field packaged in various ways.
Hmmm. Wonder if they've got any defensive coordinators lying around that warehouse.
Guess Crennel figured there were too many New England connections there to pass up, between offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and general manager Scott Pioli.
Wish I had a nickel for Perry Fewell's thoughts right now.
As the Washington Post pointed out, Shanahan has had the head coaching down there for a week, and he already has both coordinators in place. Meanwhile, the Giants have reached out to Haslett and Romeo Crennel, who is still believed to be going to Kansas City, and didn't get to sit down face-to-face with either of them.
Perry Fewell, former interim Bills coach, remains the only known interview, and he's still home trying to figure out if he wants to come to New York or reunite with Lovie Smith in Chicago. He would have to be regarded as the front-runner now, along with Jets linebackers coach Bob Sutton, who can't be interviewed until the Jets are done with the playoffs.
No sense in discarding other possibilities like Redskins DBs coach Jerry Gray, who interviewed for both the Redskins' head coaching and defensive coordinator jobs, and Greg Blache, who is retiring as the Redskins' DC. Wouldn't think the Giants would try very hard to talk him out of retirement, however.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Giants Insider reported that Haslett is supposed to be here tomorrow for an interview.
Meanwhile, Perry Fewell is still thinking things over between the Giants and the Bears. And there is still the rumor that Tom Coughlin is ultimately interested in Jets linebacker coach Bob Sutton, who can't be interviewed until the Jets are done with the playoffs.
One would think April, a Special Teams Coach of the Year twice in the last six years, could kick-start a Giants unit that grossly underperformed with Tom Quinn as its leader. Of course, no signs yet that Quinn will lose his job. But with his punting unit finishing 29th in the all-important net average, the kickoff coverage finishing 25th, and the kickoff returns finishing 28th, it would certainly be understandable if Coughlin did make a change.
There seems a good chance that April would go with Shanahan, though. And let's face it, there just aren't that many high-profile special teams coaches on the market.
Jerry Gray, anyone? Although reports have it that the Redskins' secondary coach is interviewing for that team's DC job today.
Still awaiting word on whether Chicago has offered former Bills interim coach and Coughlin's first interview Perry Fewell a job. But everybody assumes that, if he has been offered one, he'll join up with Lovie Smith.
Just as well. Don't know if Haslett's rather free-wheeling personality would clash with Coughlin's disciplined take on things. Again, wonder if Greg Blache could be an option here.
But since I opened up this whole Kurt Warner issue yesterday, I thought it might be fun to formalize the opinions, considering they've been scattered throughout the posts over the past two days. What makes it even more fun is that Warner has that Giants connection, having quarterbacked the squad for the first nine games of 2004, before Tom Coughlin deemed it time to turn the page at 5-4 and begin the Eli Manning era.
I started things by saying Warner is not yet a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, since he had a huge lull between his off-the-charts first three seasons and his current career with the Arizona Cardinals. In between, because of injuries and inconsistency, he was often average, and often below average. Even at the time of his removal with the Giants, he happened to be playing poorly, if you remember.
However, one more Super Bowl appearance should do it for me.
Now, in one space here, give me your opinions. Don't be afraid to repeat stuff from previous posts. I just don't want anybody to be shy about it if they do have an opinion, but didn't feel it appropriate to post it in an entry about defensive coordinators.
Have some fun with it and get a good discussion going. Meanwhile, I still have my ear on the railroad track. Hey, is that the 1:20 out of Penn Station coming?
As for Jim Haslett, LaCanfora said he interviewed with the Redskins Monday. Wonder if Greg Blache would be a good fit up here? The players down there seemed to like him.
Don't be surprised to see a few more names pop up here. Meanwhile, we'll try to find out more on Haslett.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Also, ESPN reports that a deal will likely be done for Romeo Crennel in Kansas City, which means he probably won't even interview for the Giants job. Miami is also said to be interested in him.
And ESPN-Chicago reported that Kevin Gilbride's agent, Paul Sheehy, said there was no truth to the rumor that the Bears were interested in him for the open offensive coordinator's spot.
"[There] is no truth at all in any Kevin Gilbride to the Bears [reports] in any way," Sheehy said in a text message to ESPNChicago.com.
As for another logical candidate, Dick Jauron, a league source indicated that the Giants have yet to contact Coughlin's old Jacksonville assistant for an interview. I'm not counting out Jauron just yet, however, as this search looks like it's going to take some time.
At any rate, I'm not expecting any major pronouncements from the Giants today. Which means nobody's coming -- and nobody's going. Yet.
Not that the Giants want to lose him, but the newest offering out of CSNChicago.com lists Gilbride along with deposed Washington head coach Jim Zorn as possibilities for the Bears' offensive coordinator spot now that Jeremy Bates reportedly has decided to follow USC boss Pete Carroll to Seattle.
Gilbride, under contract until the end of 2010, would need to have an upgrade in job description, like assistant head coach, to join Lovie Smith. Then, there's still the rumor floating around that he's in the mix for the yet-to-be-opened Raiders job. Pro Football Talk reports that Al Davis is on the verge of firing Tom Cable, perhaps as early as today.
And then there is the longtime rumor that Gilbride could be interviewed for the open Bills head coaching spot, a job Gilbride told me earlier in the season he'd gladly take because of his previous good experience with owner Ralph Wilson as the Bills' offensive coordinator from 2002-03. That interview hasn't happened, however.
Who Coughlin doesn't bring in for interviews could be as telling as those he does talk to. For instance, still no word, right now that is, on whether Dick Jauron has been offered an interview. And -- just wondering here -- do you think Coughlin would even think about going to the Eagles/Jim Johnson tree again for, say, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, especially after the way Dallas tore up that defense? I don't think so. You?
So what did we learn over the weekend?
* Mark Sanchez threw all of 15 times, didn't screw it up, and has thus made the turn from rookie to elite quarterback in 60 minutes. He will never, ever have another bad game again for the rest of his career.
* No matter how bad a guy's playoff record is, never count him out once he's in the tournament. Tony Romo proved that Saturday.
* The Amoeba defense, or whatever you want to call it (Green Bay called it the Psycho Defense) is not infallible, even though Denver made it look so against the Giants.
* Kurt Warner wasn't a Hall of Famer in my book before this year. But if he brings his team to a second consecutive Super Bowl, especially after that showing yesterday, he's in. Doesn't have to win it. Just get there.
* Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby, a sixth-year player who is eligible as an unrestricted free agent whether it's an uncapped year or not, would certainly look fine in the middle of the Giants' defense next year.
* The glory days of New England Patriots football are over. They're just another good team now.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The report said that Carroll is trying to convince his offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, to follow him to the Pacific Northwest, rather than interview for the same position with the Bears. If that happens, you can knock off one team that could swipe Giants quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, who has already been rumored to be Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's choice if he gets the Bills job.
Carroll has been tight-lipped about the head coaching offer. But it would make sense. He'd be getting out of USC one step ahead of the NCAA sheriff, who could impose sanctions if they find out junior running back Joe McKnight was indeed caught driving an SUV that belonged to a booster. He's also had some problems keeping players academically eligible.
The biggest effect on the Giants, however, could involve its director of college scouting, Marc Ross. He's interviewing for the open GM's job there next week. But the ESPN report said that Carroll will be given full control, which means Ross wouldn't wield nearly the power of a typical general manager. Might not be the right situation for him now. Then again, coaches don't last forever in the NFL, as Carroll's previous stints with the Jets (1994) and the Patriots (1997-99) prove.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Ross would be looking at a coaching search if he got the job. Wonder what that means for guys like Kevin Gilbride and Chris Palmer. We'll keep an eye on that one as the weeks go by.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
On another front, the firings have stopped for now. Nobody lost their job today. But as Scarlett O'Hara once said, tomorrow is another day. If I were a defensive or special teams assistant, I wouldn't get too comfortable.
Could be that Tom Coughlin will keep those guys around until the new coordinator gets in, and then let the new guy have input as to who stays and who goes. Also, remember that player evaluation and the gathering of certain stats for various contract incentives is probably still on-going. You need bodies for that. So some of those guys may get the boot after all the paperwork is done.
Like I said, they shouldn't get too comfortable.
Fewell is scheduled to interview for the Chicago Bears' DC job next week, and there's a good chance he'll land there because of his connections with Lovie Smith. He's a Cover-2 coach, anyway, and I don't think he'd fit into a team that needs a shot of aggressiveness in the coming season.
The Giants have apparently reached out to former assistant and former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel as another candidate. Crennel, the report said, is on vacation in Aruba, but is due back Monday. He'll no doubt be interviewed next week. The interesting thing about Crennel is he's a 3-4 coach, having been imbued with the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick philosophy of defense that worked so well in New York and New England. He and Coughlin worked together on the 1990 Super Bowl squad, so it's not outlandish to think Coughlin would have him in for a sit-down.
This probably wouldn't be a real good thing for the Giants as a team or Eli Manning as a quarterback. A lot of the credit for turning Manning into a 4,000-yard passer this year has gone to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, and rightly so. But the other component was Palmer, who is regarded as one of the strongest, most imaginative handlers of quarterbacks in the league.
There are already rumors that Gilbride could be a frontrunner for the Oakland job if Al Davis jettisons Tom Cable. The thought of losing both Gilbride and Palmer could be devestating to a staff that has already experienced some major upheavel on the other side of the ball, and should expect more in the days and weeks to come.
It doesn't appear that Davis has made a decision on Cable yet, and he does tend to move slow on these things. And that's kind of unfortunate for the Giants. If the Bills hire Frazier in the next week, Frazier would be in a position to move quickly and offer Palmer the step up in status. And if Gilbride found a head coaching job elsewhere, the Giants would be left with both positions to fill. The best scenario would be if Gilbride found his job first so Coughlin could immediately offer Palmer the offensive coordinator's job.
In my book, though, the best situation is both Gilbride and Palmer staying put. There's enough going on now with the defensive overhaul.
By the way, anyone think linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, DBs coach Pete Giunta, or safeties coach David Merritt are on their way out? I have a feeling Coughlin might hire his new coordinator and let him sort out the rest of the operation.
"My little surgery went very well yesterday," Boss wrote a few minutes ago. "Thanks for all the good wishes and thoughts...gonna see how long my wife will let me milk this!"
Boss was just one of a handful of Giants that have surgeries scheduled in the next week or so. RB Brandon Jacobs (knee), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles and foot), DE Justin Tuck (left shoulder labrum), WR Hakeem Nicks (wrist) have also been scheduled. WR Mario Manningham (shoulder) said Monday that he might have an operation.
In the meantime, my friend Patti is having a live chat over at Inside Football tomorrow at 11 a.m. to wrap up the season. Might be worth stopping by if you have a chance.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
"I am extremely saddened by it," Umenyiora said. "He is a great coach and we have a special relationship. I'm sure he will be OK though because there should be very high demand for a coach of his caliber."
Umenyiora should be sad. He became a Pro Bowler in 2007 under Waufle's tutelage. But on the flip side, his play declined enough this year despite Waufle's coaching to cause Umenyiora to lose his starting job after the Denver game.
Think some of those defensive linemen are starting to look at themselves in the mirror a bit?
That, to me, is a major surprise despite all the problems the defensive line had this year. In fact, I was almost tempted to write that the well-liked Waufle, a smart, militarily-disciplined, yet charismatic coach, would not be a horrible choice as Bill Sheridan's replacement at defensive coordinator.
However, it was obvious through this firing that Tom Coughlin was unable to swallow the issues up front, from Osi Umenyiora's decline to part-time status, to the inability to stop anyone in the Red Zone, to the softness of the defensive ends on the edges.
Also, and this is just thinking here, but could Coughlin now be laying the groundwork for a switch to the 3-4? Guess we'll see.
In somewhat less earth-shattering news, the Giants signed three more players to 2010 contracts: defensive back Courtney Brown, fullback Jerome Johnson and kicker Sam Swank.
Okay, so let's talk about it. A bunch of people are running the 3-4 right now. And if you remember, the Giants had great success with it in the '90s under Bill Parcells. The trick to running the 3-4, of course, is having the right personnel to do it with. Which means fleet linebackers who can blitz, cover, and stop the run with equal ease, and a big nose tackle to two-gap around the center.
The Jets do it. Miami does it. Green Bay and Dallas do it. Baltimore does it. So do Pittsburgh and New England. All of those teams generally have pretty fair defenses, wouldn't you say?
So why all the consternation about bringing in, say, a Dom Capers or a Bob Sutton or a George Edwards, or even a Pepper Johnson -- someone of a 3-4 mentality? Well, for one thing, head coaches tend to be slow to change. And the Giants have run a 4-3 base since the days of Dan Reeves, so switching up would represent a tremendous sea change in defensive operation. Still, given the results of this season, perhaps such a drastic change will be deemed necessary.
Besides, the Giants already play a 3-4. Not all the time. But situationally. They did it under Steve Spagnuolo, too. Every once in a while, you'd see the three down linemen and four linebackers, usually in some pass rush situation.
But this would be the base formation, and that's where all the questions about personnel come in. To me, it boils down to a nose tackle and the linebackers. Can Barry Cofield, who plays over the center anyway in the Giants' 4-3, serve as a strong, gap-plugging nose tackle in a straight 3-4?
The answer is, I'm not sure. At 304 pounds, he trends toward the light side. And given his past season, where he was often pushed around, I doubt opponents would have to devote a center AND a guard to block him, which kind of defeats the purpose of the 3-4. Then again, if he could put on 10 or 15 pounds of muscle and get all his strength back from the offseason knee surgery that slowed him throughout the season, maybe he could fit in there.
That leaves the defensive ends. Chris Canty probably could serve as one, given his height and wingspan. And wouldn't you just love to see Justin Tuck in a sort of Leonard Marshall role? He's already shown he can work effectively from a more inside spot, so why not give it a try? Besides, he's quick enough to pick off an offensive tackle from there to keep him away from an outside linebacker, too.
The linebackers are a problem. Mathias Kiwanuka can serve as one outside linebacker, certainly. He stops the run well enough, and has enough pass rush skills that I'd feel comfortable with him on the weak side. But Michael Boley isn't really a strongside guy. And what to do with Osi Umenyiora. Maybe Kiwanuka on the strong side, stand up Umenyiora and let him pass rush from the weak side, and perhaps let Boley play one of the inside positions?
And who takes the other inside position? Remember, in the 3-4, the runs are going to be funneled up the gut, so you need a strong-tackling linebacker there. Did anyone this year show that quality? I like Jonathan Goff, but I'm not sure he's ready to become the team's premier tackler.
Chase Blackburn? No. Bryan Kehl? Not yet. And what if one of them has to drop into coverage? You remember what happened then, right?
Still, if a quality mind comes along and happens to be a 3-4 guy, I say they ought to try it. Throw some pounds on Cofield, and then draft a fast linebacker who can cover at No. 15. That would be a good start if the Giants go in that direction.
Might be worth a shot. Yes? No?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
He's also interviewing for the Bills head coaching job, but he is considered a longshot there.
So here we go.
DICK JAURON: The most obvious one for several reasons. First, Coughlin knows him from his Jacksonville days, which is a big plus. The guy wasn't a very good head coach, but he knows defense. And now that he's no longer occupied in downtrodden Buffalo, he might just make himself available to his former boss to straighten out this mess of a defense.
DOM CAPERS: The father of the zone blitz (just what some of you guys need, right?) is busy coaching the Green Bay defense in the playoffs right now. But he'd be worth an interview. Remember, those assistants under contract have to be offered a higher position, like assistant head coach, in order to jump. Capers also worked with Coughlin.
BOB SUTTON: The National Football Post website said Coughlin is targeting this ex-Army head coach and current Jets linebackers coach. The military background is right up Coughlin's alley. But this is a guy who got zilch out of a first-round pick in Vernon Gholston. Well, everybody has his failures. He did do well with this year's starting LBs, however, as they were a functional part of the league's No. 1 defense. And guess what? Except for that one touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez in the Atlanta loss, those guys actually knew how to cover a tight end.
JIM HASLETT: I put him as a longshot, actually. He was a gritty linebacker and a fiery head coach himself. But I think he's a bit too flighty for Coughlin. Tends to go off on the sidelines and with the media.
KIRK OLIVADOTTI: This linebackers coach will be out of work soon in Washington, but I'm not sure he's a great fit here. His father, Tom, was once a Giants assistant, but to me the old man's most memorable moment came when a popup bounced off his mouth in the coaches-media softball game and opened a gash. Still, the Redskins had the 10th-best defense in the league, and Olivadotti did handle stud pass rusher Brian Orakpo.
GEORGE EDWARDS: The Dolphins linebackers coach's name has been bandied about. The 42-year-old coordinated the Redskins' defense from 2002-03. Seems like a longshot.
PEPPER JOHNSON: He's coaching the Patriots defensive line right now, but boy, would he be a popular choice among fans. You all should remember him from his Giants career, when he was considered a hard-hitting inside linebacker and a say-it-all interview. Like Haslett, though, not sure his and Coughlin's personalities would jive.
Other names will arise in the coming days, and I'll try to keep up with things the best I can.