Bill Sheridan came into the season with a plan. As a first-year defensive coordinator, he knew what he wanted to do and what he wanted to accomplish.
But now that the Giants' defense has given up at least 40 points in four games, has yielded 383 points in 15 games (fifth most in the NFL) and is largely responsible for the team's current non-playoff predicament - all of which he admitted he never envisioned "in my wildest imagination" - Sheridan is hoping that the plan is what saves his job.
"I had an idea about how we were going to do it and we just followed the plan," Sheridan said Thursday in his final news conference of the season and, perhaps, of his career as a Giants coordinator. "Right, wrong or indifferent, we followed our plan . . . We stuck with that. At least we'll get credit for that."
He didn't appear to be joking.
Sheridan isn't getting credit for much else, but he's getting a lot of the blame. Don't think it goes unnoticed in the building, either. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who has taken his share of heat during his tenure with the team, said he sometimes walks past Sheridan in the hallway and gives him a wink.
"So you wanted to be a coordinator, huh?" Gilbride said to Sheridan. "How do you feel about that now?"
The players also know that changes will have to be made because of the defense's performance.
"That's a tough road as far as blaming one guy, but somebody's going to be a scapegoat," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I don't think that's warranted. We all are accountable."
Sheridan clearly feels the same way. He not-so-subtly pointed fingers at the players for the poor execution of the defensive plans he and the coaching staff devised (this while the players have mostly backed him).
"I just always equate it to execution of the defense," Sheridan said when asked what went wrong this year. "Maybe some of it is personnel [and injuries], but our coaches, we don't think of it that way. We're looking at the execution of our defense versus the opponent's execution of their offense against us. To me, that's what we critique and try to evaluate and evolve."
Asked what he would tell Tom Coughlin if the head coach were to ask why he should be given a second year as the team's top defensive mind, Sheridan reached back to what he told Coughlin when he interviewed for the position a year ago.
"The same reason why he gave me the job: because I'm competent and do a conscientious, diligent job," Sheridan said. "To me, the most important thing is competence, that you can put your players, give them a plan on a weekly basis that will put them in the best position to defend, and beat your opponent."
Asked if he thinks he's done that this year, Sheridan said he has. Asked if he believes he'll be back leading the defense next season, he said: "Absolutely."
"In the grand scheme of things, with a few exceptions to it with some poor performances, week in and week out, even with the injuries, I think we've played an honorable defense," Sheridan said.
We'll soon find out if "competent" and "honorable" add up to "retained.''
Notes & quotes: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring) were put on injured reserve Thursday. The Giants promoted QB Rhett Bomar and S Sha'reff Rashad from their practice squad to fill the roster spots . . . DT Chris Canty (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Vikings . . . Tuck (knee) missed practice but said he plans on playing Sunday.