Will Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles mark the end of Perry Fewell's tenure as New York Giants defensive coordinator? Someone is going to have to take the fall for the Giants' second consecutive losing season, and with the likelihood being that head coach Tom Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese aren't going anywhere, Fewell would appear to be at the front of the firing line.
The Giants' defense disappointed much of the season, at one time being ranked last in the league in total defense, before a late-season surge led by Jason Pierre-Paul and a host of young players made the numbers look at least a bit more respectable.
Here is a year-by-year look at how Giants' defenses have fared during Fewell's five-year tenure.
2014: Yards per game, 372.4 (28th); Points per game, 24.4 (21st) ... Entering Week 17
2013: Yards, 332.2 (8th); Points, 23.9 (18th)
2012: Yards, 383.4 (31st); Points, 21.5 (12th)
2011: Yards, 367.6 (22nd); Points, 23.1 (21st)
2010: Yards, 310.6 (7th); Points, 24.4 (21st)
Look at those numbers. The one that matters -- that has to matter -- is points. In four of Fewell's five seasons the Giants have finished in the bottom half of the league in points allowed. Ultimately, the job of the defense is to stop the opposing offense from putting up points. Dissect it any way you want, Giants defenses under Fewell's direction have allowed too many points. That, in turn, leads to too much pressure on your offense. You can't win consistently that way.
This season the Giants, have given up a league-worst 4.92 yards per running play. That despite healthy seasons from Jason Pierre-Paul, the best 4-3 run defending defensive end in football, and standout defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
They are 27th in the league in yards allowed per passing play at 7.38.
Overall, the Giants are 28th in yards allowed per play at 5.97.
On Friday Fewell brushed off questions about his future.
"I haven't really thought about it. I wouldn't even reflect on it," Fewell said. "I just prepare for the next opponent."
In the few opportunities I have had to listen to him speak, Fewell seems like a genuinely nice guy. He seems like a smart guy. The problem is that for whatever reason Fewell's defenses over the years have blown too many assignments, given up too many big plays and too often played with a lack of discipline or understanding. Whether that is because the players were simply undisciplined, because Fewell and his staff were unable to properly teach the concepts they were trying to run or a combination of both I don't know.
Five years of evidence, though, is hard to ignore. The overall body of work under Fewell's direction is below average. It seems like the Giants' defense, much like the offense this season, could be headed for a makeover in 2015.