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In search for DC, worry about the man -- not the system

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As I have been monitoring the New York Giants search for a new defensive coordinator, as well as keeping an eye on the discussions amongst the faithful here at Big Blue View, I have come to a realization.

I really don't care what system the new coordinator runs. Tampa 2, press coverage, mostly man-to-man, 4-3 with lots of blitzing, 3-4 with some drastic personnel changes. It really makes no difference to me.

What I really care about, and what I think is more important, is getting a coordinator who will have the respect of the players, who can clearly communicate and teach what he wants, who is not afraid to call out under-performing players and who the players will believe in.

To me, those things are more important than what style of defense is employed. If the Giants assemble talented players who believe in the coach, believe in what he is telling them, know their assignments and fly to the football the system will work. Regardless of what it is.

The Giants interviewed former Buffalo defensive coordinator and interim head coach Perry Fewell last week. It looks more and like Fewell will end up in Chicago as DC. He interviews there today.

All eyes will be on the Giants and former Cleveland head coach and New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel for the next few days. Crennel and Tom Coughlin worked together as assistant coaches for the Giants, and I read in a number of places that they have remained close over the years. So, you would have to think Crennel to the Giants would be a real possibility.

With the Patriots out of the playoffs after getting spanked 33-14 by Baltimore Sunday, I am sure there will be increasing speculation about New England defensive line coach -- and former Giants linebacker -- Pepper Johnson.

In a recent article about Johnson, who has coached 10 seasons in New England, Ralph Vacchiano wrote this:

He has never been a defensive coordinator, but he has won two Super Bowl rings as a player and three as a Patriots assistant.

He also is a brilliant defensive mind, according to those who know him, and his presence and winning background would certainly get the attention of the Giants' deflated defensive players.

"Yeah, definitely, it would be instant respect," said Carl Banks, the former Giants linebacker and a teammate of Johnson's from 1986-92. "But even if they know nothing of his history and care nothing about Giant tradition, they'll respect his knowledge of the game. They'll respect the success he has in this league and the teams he's coached."

I reached out to David Heafey of SBN's Pats Pulpit for some thoughts on Johnson. Here is what he had to say.

"I'd hate to see Pepper go because he's done so much for the Patriots' defensive line. Pepper's had to deal with a lot: the departure of veteran presence DE Richard Seymour, injuries to his main go to NT Vince Wilfork, changes in alignments (3-4 to a 4-3 for many games) due to a thin linebacker corp after ILB Jerod Mayo's injury. He's a smart guy with 13 years as a player and 10 as a coordinator under Bill Belichick. He's got the experience and the pedigree to do well. I think he'd be a fine defensive coordinator for Big Blue, fine enough that I'll be concerned when my Patriots line up against him."

One guy I do not think I want to see coaching the Giants defense is New York Jets assistant Bob Sutton. Via Twitter, Newsday's Tom Rock reported that Sutton stated he is focused on the Jets' playoff run and has not heard from the Giants.

After getting the following nugget from John Butchko of SB Nations Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, I'm fine with that.

"Sutton has been with the Jets under four different head coaches. He was defensive coordinator for three seasons under Eric Mangini before a demotion once Rex Ryan was hired. I couldn't encourage the Giants to go in a different direction strongly enough. Sutton's tenure as coordinator was marked by unaggressive and unimaginative schemes, poorly designed plays, a lack of fundamentals, and nonexistant adjustments. Most Jets fans were calling for his ouster over a year before his actual demotion. More than once Mangini became more involved with the defense halfway through the season because he was so dissatisfied with the job Sutton was doing. A lot of people who follow the Jets will tell you Sutton was as responsible for Mangini losing his job a year ago as anybody. Frankly, I'm stunned he has a shot at getting another coordinator job."

Yeah. Hiring Sutton does not sound like a good plan.

I would have to think Dick Jauron is still also a possibility, though his name has not really been mentioned much recently. Green Bay's Dom Capers is also mentioned as a candidate in some circles, although he chose the Packers instead of the Giants just a year ago.

(E-mail Ed at