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We know all about the biggest coaching move our New York Giants made this off-season, firing defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and replacing him with Perry Fewell.
We have spent a ton of time discussing that move, and I am sure we will spend a lot more time on it going forward.
The Giants shuffled a few other assistant coaching positions, as well. I would like to focus on a couple of those moves in today's series of 'Game-Changing Off-season Moves,' sponsored by Sprint.
Specifically, I want to focus on two moves.
- Mike Sullivan's ascension from receivers coach to quarterbacks coach, a position he has never coached before.
- Robert Nunn taking over the defensive line from the deposed Mike Waufle.
Let's talk about Sullivan first.
Sullivan is replacing Chris Palmer, a veteran quarterback guru considered among the best in the business. Palmer left for an opportunity to run his own team in the UFL. Palmer has largely been the caretaker as Eli Manning has developed from unsure young quarterback to Super Bowl-winning franchise player.
The question is, what can Sullivan -- who has never done this before -- bring to the table to help Eli? Here are Sullivan's thoughts on that.
"I think from the standpoint of what my role is, it is to make sure from a consistency standpoint, those great performances that we have seen him have in the past and some of the great things that he has done, that he has developed to this point, that we stay out of those valleys and to keep the type of performance consistency at a higher level and then to continue to help him improve in all of the small areas. And again, his attitude and his work ethic make my job a lot easier."
Consistency is a favorite Coughlin buzzword and an elusive attribute all players strive for yet find difficult to achieve. Which begs the question, how will Sullivan foster consistency in Manning?
"That is the challenge," Sullivan conceded. "I think it all starts with going back, looking at the tape, looking at a play and saying, 'Okay, what were you thinking here? Why were you inclined to make this decision?' And talk through - from my standpoint - 'Well, based upon that now, if we could go back in time, what if we went about it a different way? What if we looked here, what if we made this adjustment, etc?' That kind of give and take makes sense. It is not memorization, it is not, 'I'm doing it because I have to do it.' But it becomes natural, and then just continuing to reinforce the natural. And whether it is in a meeting, out at practice, putting him in those situations where we can again reinforce that habit. Again, with someone with such great talent that he is not out there thinking, he is not out there overanalyzing. He can just go out there and use his God-given ability and make good, fast, accurate decisions.
Guys coach positions in the NFL all the time that they have never played or coached before. Tom Coughlin was a collegiate running back who ended up coaching wide receivers. So, that really does not mean anything.
Eli probably doesn't need more, at this point in his career, than someone to help him validate that he is making the right reads and decisions. It isn't really about learning the fundamentals of the position any more, so as long as Sullivan understands the passing game this should work out fine.
Now, let's talk about Nunn. He replaces the popular Mike Waufle as the man responsible for tutoring the Giants' defensive lineman.
It might, in fact, have been that popularity the led to Waufle's undoing. There were whispers after the season that Waufle, beloved by his linemen after being with the Giants since 2004, had crossed Coughlin by backing Osi Umenyiora last year in his dispute with Bill Sheridan, and his complaint about playing time.
Regardless, Waufle is now doing his job in Oakland. And it is Nunn who is in that spot. And, without doubt, it is a key spot for the Giants.
Remember, the Giants used their first two draft picks on defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph. That means Nunn is the guy primarily responsible for teaching the two prized rookies the NFL ropes.
He will also be responsible for the day-to-day care of the Giants' veteran lineman, and for figuring out what guys like Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and others can contribute as the Giants try to bounced back from 2009s disappointment.
Sullivan and Nunn may not be heard from or spoken of often. Each, however, has a significant role to play in 2010.