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Giants 'D' supports coordinator Sheridan

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan of the New York

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan of the New York Giants watches drills at rookie camp. (May 9, 2009) Credit: Getty Images

Quick, name the five teams who have given up the most points this season.

You probably could guess four of them: the Lions, Rams, Buccaneers and Chiefs, who have seven wins among them. But who's the fifth of the NFL's most moribund defenses?

That would be the New York Football Giants, who have done little this season to live up to a heritage of stingy play and hard-hitting aggression.

That's one of the main reasons first-year coordinator Bill Sheridan is under fire. A defense that was supposed to be the backbone of the team's success is failing, and Tom Coughlin is starting to field questions about his devotion to Sheridan.

Coughlin said he's not considering making a move and switching coordinators during this season - cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta, a coordinator with the Rams' Super Bowl teams and a finalist for the job that went to Sheridan, would be the likely in-house replacement - but did acknowledge that improvements need to be made.

"We talk every day," Coughlin said Monday of his conversations with Sheridan. "I let him know my support for him, and I also let him know that it has to be better, that we have to do a better job."

Sunday night's 45-38 loss to the Eagles was the third time this season the Giants allowed at least 40 points in a game and the fifth time they allowed at least 30. In two years under Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants allowed 30 or more points seven times, two of those in the first two games of the adjustment to his system. Since Coughlin came to the Giants in 2004, the Giants have given up 40 or more points in seven games, three this year.

But Coughlin insists that the fault does not lie with Sheridan alone. The players agree.

"Regardless of what's called, if we execute 100 percent, we should come out with a win," Mathias Kiwanuka said, adding that the players "still have 100- percent faith" in Sheridan. "He knows X's and O's better than a lot of people in this league, and he's giving us an opportunity to play and putting us in position to win games. We just haven't done it."

Said linebacker Michael Boley: "As a defense, we buy into the scheme. If we had doubts about it, we wouldn't be out there trying to execute it."

There are times when it looks as if they aren't trying to execute it, such as when they left a fumbled football by Donovan McNabb rocking on the turf without picking it up Sunday night. Or when DeSean Jackson caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from McNabb and was so wide open he backed into the end zone.

Speaking of backing in, the Giants are down in the defensive rankings but not out of the playoff picture. They trail the Cowboys by a game for the final NFC wild-card spot and hold a head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping them.

So when Aaron Ross was told about those five defenses at the bottom of the rankings - he didn't know the answer at first, either - he acknowledged those are not the teams the Giants want to be keeping company with.

"They're not," Ross said. "And we still have a chance to make the playoffs. So that's a good sign for us."

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