Giants defensive coordinator expects to be back
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Bill Sheridan expects to be back for a second season as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator despite seeing his unit rank among the NFL’s worst in points allowed.
Sheridan said on Thursday that he has done a competent job and that he was not concerned about his job security.
“I know you guys are very concerned about it, but I’m not concerned about it,” Sheridan said after the Giants practiced for Sunday’s season finale against the Vikings in Minnesota.
The Giants defense has given up 383 points, ranking it 28th in the league. It has allowed opponents to score 40 points four times, including Sunday when the Carolina Panthers embarrassed New York 41-9 in the team’s final game at Giants Stadium.
The last time the Giants allowed that many 40-point games was 1966, when it happened five times.
Sheridan acknowledged he did not anticipate a season like this in his wildest dreams.
Some of the problems can be traced to injuries. Safety Kenny Phillips, cornerback Aaron Ross, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and defensive tackle Jay Alford all suffered season-ending injuries. Cornerback Corey Webster (knee), defensive tackle Chris Canty (hamstring, calf, knee) and linebacker Michael Boley (hip, knee) have been sidelined for weeks.
The biggest loss may have been Pierce. The defensive signal caller missed the final seven games with a neck injury.
“That’s a big void that’s hard to fill, just from a leadership on the field standpoint, a gameday quarterback on the field,” Sheridan said. “He hadn’t played great week in and week out. That’s a void that has not been filled since he’s been out of the lineup.”
Besides the injuries, Sheridan said there are some subtle and intangible things that he would like to change next season, but he did not get specific.
Coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants management will determine whether Sheridan comes back.
Coughlin will have the most say. He promoted Sheridan from linebackers coach to coordinator after Steve Spagnuolo left to become the head coach of the St. Louis Rams.
Sheridan said he told Coughlin that he was competent and that would do a conscientious, diligent job, when he interviewed for the coordinator’s job. He said he would tell him the exact same thing if asked why he should return.
“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,” Sheridan said. “And that’s why he gave me the job. And if he’s evaluated I’m still competent in that area, that’s what I would tell him.”
Sheridan also might be held accountable for problems with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
Umenyiora skipped a practice before the season after a tiff with Sheridan. The coordinator then took away his starting job after Thanksgiving.
Umenyiora said on Wednesday that he wants to return next season provided there are changes.
Sheridan believes Umenyiora has not slipped after missing last season with a knee injury.
“I think he is more than capable of being a full-time player,” Sheridan said. “With the depth we had had going in at the defensive line it was already predetermined we were going to be rotating guys and no one was going to be playing more than 30 or 40 snaps a game. In the latter part of the season his reps have fallen off but it’s in no way a reflection of his ability.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck said that Sheridan faced high expectations following Spagnuolo, who was the defensive guru of their Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in February 2008.
“’09 has been a year our defense would like to forget how we played,” Tuck said.
The play of the defense was one of the major reasons the Giants failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Tuck understands someone has to be held accountable.
“Somebody is going to be a scapegoat,” Tuck said. “That could be a lot of people. I don’t think that is warranted. I don’t think that is deserving of Bill because we all are accountable.”
Tuck said he would like to see Sheridan return.