Even though their season ended in a dismal 23-11 loss to the Eagles, the Giants apparently decided there wasn't anything broken with their defense. They promoted linebackers coach Bill Sheridan to defensive coordinator on Monday, two days after Steve Spagnuolo left to become head coach of the St. Louis Rams.
"We won 26 games here in the last two years," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Despite the fact that we're all miserable (after the playoff loss last week), there is an inclination when that happens that you would stay within."
That makes sense, but it doesn't jive with word that circulated over the weekend. Coughlin was reportedly targeting Dom Capers to take over Spagnuolo's spot on the staff. Capers was the first head coach of the Carolina Panthers and worked with Coughlin in Jacksonville before becoming the head man in Houston. He spent 2008 coaching the Patriots secondary and his name came up in conjunction with several defensive openings in the NFL.
The easy speculation is that the Giants wanted Capers to be their coordinator and keep Sheridan as the linebackers coach, but couldn't work that out. Spagnuolo is said to be interested in hiring Sheridan as his coordinator in St. Louis, and the Giants, while contractually able to keep him, may have created a bad working environment by keeping Sheridan under a new boss. Rather than monkey with a defense that's been successful, Coughlin and the Giants opted for the path of least resistance.
Or the path of less money. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Capers wound up taking the Packers job because the Giants didn't come forward with a salary offer. The Packers are paying him more than $2 million for 2010, Mortensen reports, after getting him at a discount for 2009 because Capers is still owed money from his time with the Dolphins. Sheridan will come much cheaper than that, which may have been a factor in the Giants thinking.
Coughlin likes Sheridan enough that he kept him on the staff even after firing Tim Lewis two years ago, so there doesn't seem to be any problem with their relationship. He still may have wanted a more experienced hand at the top, however, and time will tell if the Giants defense will suffer because of the decision.