When New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell met with the media Friday in advance of the team's critical Monday Night Football game against the New Orleans Saints he was asked about the team's missing pass rush. To be honest, I was disturbed by Fewell's responses.
Fewell was asked "How important is the pass rush in terms of disrupting [New Orleans quarterback] Drew Brees?'
"If we don't do that, then we minimize our opportunity to win," Fewell said. "The front four is vitally important. We've said to them, ‘Hey, if we're going to be successful in this ballgame, you have to come through for us.' "
He was then asked why the pass rush has struggled in recent weeks. The Giants' 31 sacks were tied for the league lead entering play in Week 12, but the team has just three sacks in the last five games.
"I can't put my finger on it, but I do think we can return [to that form] and we can rush these guys [the Saints]. They have a good offensive line, don't get me wrong. They have a good, solid offense, period. There's really no weak links on that offense, but we just have to watch the occasion and our d-line has to come through for us," Fewell said.
Kraken Attack (via cyberleader23)
So, the defensive coordinator realizes that "If we don't do that [rush the passer], then we minimize our opportunity to win," but "can't put my finger on it" when asked why the pass rush has been stifled the past few weeks.
Well, I think I can come up with a big part of the reason. I think many of you here at Big Blue View have been talking about it for weeks, as well. It's time to RELEASE THE KRAKEN! It is my belief that Fewell has been holding that group back the past few weeks.
This is my biggest issue with Fewell, a good defensive coordinator who could be a great one if he would simply allow his defense to play to its strengths rather than try to play to his system.
All of the zone coverage that is such a staple of Fewell's defense does not allow corners like Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas before he got hurt and now Prince Amukamara to do what they do best -- press and cover. It exposes inexperienced linebackers who often have to make quick decisions about what gaps to fill in pass coverage, and often make the wrong ones. It exposes slow safeties who can't quite get to their spots fast enough to fill some of those holes a Cover 2 type scheme can leave. It exposes a team with injuries and rotating personnel that sometimes does not communicate well in the secondary.
Much of that, though, can be overcome by a fierce pass rush that does not give a quarterback time to exploit those deficiencies. Terrorizing quarterbacks is what the Giants are built for. General manager Jerry Reese collects pass rushers like they were rare gold coins. The Giants have Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, plus some good defensive tackles, and some defensive backs who have proven successful at pressuring the quarterback when blitzing off the edge.
Yet, just three sacks in the last five games. Philadelphia quarterback Vince Young could have read 'War And Peace' at times while standing in the pocket a week ago. Why?
Well, it starts with Fewell's apparently having fallen in love with the three-man pass rush. I don't have numbers on how many times the Giants have employed it, but every time it is used is one time too many. The defensive coordinator says "If we don't do that [rush the passer], then we minimize our opportunity to win." He then intentionally employs a three-man pass rush that negates the thing his defense does best, and minimizes the opportunity to win.
Then there is the use of Jason Pierre-Paul at the nose tackle in that three-man line. That is a misuse of the guy who might well be the Giants' best defensive end with Tuck seemingly limited by the variety of injuries he has suffered this season. JPP has 10.5 sacks, but gets swallowed up playing inside.
There were also whispers -- or maybe more than whispers -- from some players last week that the Giants did not adjust to the max protection schemes of the Eagles. It's simple -- you can't rush three or four when the opposition is protecting with seven or eight and get pressure on the quarterback. It is simply not going to happen.
Yes, the Giants have wonderful pass-rushing defensive lineman. But, they need some help. Fewell has never been the most creative coordinator in terms of designing blitzes, but the Giants simply have got to send more people at the quarterback on a more consistent basis.
Trust your corners, Perry. Make it easier on your linebackers by allowing them to cover a man instead of having to make decisions on where or what to cover. Most of all, give your pass-rushers a chance to evening the odds.
RELEASE THE KRAKEN!