When it came to replacing former members of the Giants this offseason, a lot more attention was paid to Plaxico Burress than Steve Spagnuolo. Defensive coordinators, to the public anyway, are interchangable especially when you wind up promoting someone from within. The theory was that Bill Sheridan worked for Spagnuolo and both of them worked for Tom Coughlin, so how different could things really be?
Quite different, if Sunday's loss to the Saints is any indication. It's hard to remember a Spagnuolo defense ever going into a game with so rigid a gameplan as the one that Sheridan devised for the Saints. He decided that New Orleans was going to run the ball, so he kept calling defenses predicated on stopping the run. That meant every Drew Brees play-fake was met with the kind of reaction usually seen on those news clips of malls opening on the Friday after Thanksgiving. No matter how many passes Brees dropped over the top, Sheridan refused to make a change.
He finally agreed that they needed to change on Thursday.
"Were we to do it over again, we’d pressure much more," Sheridan said. "More frequently, and send more guys than they could block."
Funny that Sheridan says that on the Thursday after the game when you'd assume that the Thursday before the game he would have watched tape of the Jets blitzing the Saints all day and bottling up their offense. Unfortunately it seems that Sheridan was spending too much time with tapes of his team's first five games. Sheridan also said Thursday that he was taken aback because the Giants were handling the other teams they played.
That's a scary statement, something akin to a burglar lamenting he got caught after always getting away with stealing from the blind and the deaf. The Redskins, Cowboys, Bucs, Chiefs and Raiders are not good football teams so beating them straight up merely means that you're better than awful. To draw any other conclusion is arrogance of the highest order, the kind of arrogance that leads you to keep running a defense that isn't working even while the opposition is shredding you to ribbons.
Sheridan also sent a signal that he was planning to blitz a lot more this weekend against Arizona. That seems likely to find its way to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff, who may figure out a way to counter the Giants' plans. It could have been a red herring to lure the Cardinals into their clutches, but Sheridan's got a way to go before he gets credit for that kind of cleverness.