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Perry Fewell Vs. Chris Johnson Rules the Weekend

New defensive coordinator gets a big test on Sunday

By Josh Alper
|  Saturday, Sep 25, 2010  |  Updated 8:52 AM EDT
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Perry Fewell Vs. Chris Johnson Rules the Weekend

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There's been a lot of talk about leadership around the Giants this week, culminating in Justin Tuck saying Thursday that he needs to explain the "Giants way" to newcomers like Antrel Rolle.

Here's a suggestion to Tuck: Show don't tell and start showing it on Sunday against Chris Johnson. Overwhelming opposing offenses used to be the "Giants way" but that hasn't been the case for quite a while. Last year they were all about passive resistance and so far this year they've been reading and reacting instead of being on the attack from the first snap to the final whistle.

The best example of that is the way Perry Fewell approached last week's game against the Colts. He coached like a man afraid of his defense instead of a man who had confidence in it. He used a gimmicky dime defense as his base set to stop the Colts from passing the ball which sounds logical until you realize that the Giants defensive coordinator handed control of the game over to Peyton Manning as a result. The Colts dictated the pace, they dictated what kind of offense they'd run and they forced the Giants back on their heels all night long. 

Fewell did the same thing against the Panthers, albeit with more success. He put a heavier package on the field with designs on stopping the run and was bailed out because Matt Moore couldn't distinguish between Giants safeties and his own receivers. The Giants whole defensive plan was predicated on what the Panthers do instead of focusing on what the Giants do best.

That can't happen again. Fewell needs to make Sunday's game plan about the Giants and not about the Titans. He may be new to the team, but he's been here long enough to know which players are worth playing and which ones are best left on the bench. He needs to put those players in a position to succeed and have them force the issue on the Titans instead of continuing to let the opposition have final say on what kind of game it will be. 

Johnson is going to make that difficult. Regardless of scheme, we haven't seen a Giants defense capable of shutting down a strong running game in ages and they don't come any stronger than Johnson. Nor do they come with more ways to beat you. He gains huge chunks of yardage on any down and out of any formation, which is all the more reason for the Giants to focus on themselves more than on trying to match up with whatever the Titans are doing. 

We still don't know what the identity of this Giants defense will prove to be, but we do know that it won't be a successful one if it keeps changing identities to fit the situation. 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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