Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was fired the last time the Giants' season ended with two lopsided, humiliating losses. Now, after allowing 67 points and 927 yards in consecutive losses to the Falcons and Ravens, coordinator Perry Fewell is making it clear that it's not his schemes that are to blame for this late-season collapse.
"We haven't made plays," Fewell said Thursday. "I think if you look at the tape, we're in position to make plays, and we haven't made plays."
The Giants' defense is ranked 30th in the NFL, giving up 387.8 yards per game. They have allowed 56 pass plays of at least 20 yards, 15 of them in the five games since their bye.
"That's been our nemesis all year," Fewell said of the big plays. "Have we worked to eliminate the big play? Yes, we have. Have we been able to do that? No, we haven't. I can't tell you why, but yeah, that can be a point of frustration."
Unlike 2009, the players are not clamoring for changes at the top of their coaching hierarchy. Defensive captain Justin Tuck gave Fewell his endorsement on Wednesday.
"I do [believe in him]," Tuck said. "I mean, it's one of those years. You really can't put your finger on what happened. We were 6-2 with that same system, so things haven't went our way lately."
That signal-caller is putting the onus on the players.
"I think they've been playing hard, but they have to make up in their mind that we have to make some plays," Fewell said. "We have to get a spark from somebody. Somebody has to go through and make a football play and get everybody going, either offensively, defensively or special teams. We need somebody to make a big play for us and get us rolling."
Is there anything a coach can do to encourage that?
"You just continue to coach and emphasize, Hey, you're in that spot, you either have the wrong leverage, or like we missed a couple tackles and that type of thing, we're in the right positions," Fewell said. "We need to wrap tackle. You have to emphasize the things that they're not doing to finish the play because we're in position to make those plays."