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Unpacking The Players Performances: Defense

In the wake of the Bill Sheridan firing, I got to thinking that it would be helpful for us to establish an objective benchmark for how the players performed over the course of the season so that we can intelligently talk about changes that need to be made this offseason.

Stats are nice to have to aid to the discussion, so with that in mind I’d like to quickly move through the team starting with the Defense first. Here is a great table from ProFootballFocus — it illustrates very quickly who showed up and who didn’t this season.


Picture 2

Very quickly you realize how valuable Justin Tuck, Terrell Thomas, Danny Clark, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, and Chase Blackburn were to this Giants defense in 2009.  Not enough pressure from the front 7 — agreed. Not like we’re used to at all, but Justin Tuck and Terrell Thomas were still the standouts and surprisingly Danny Clark had a very good year when he was in for his 425 snaps.

Bruce Johnson and Antonio Pierce find themselves in the clear as well…. they were the only guys who had a lions share of snaps and didn’t royally screw up.  If you look at the 2007 season, this is largely what you find of the players performances — not alot of red, lots of white, and a little green.  That’s what won the Superbowl, guys who knew how to show up, do their job, and minimize the mistakes as a team and gut it out.

Now to the bad — from Corey Webster, to Barry Cofield, to Michael Boley, to Dave Tollefson…  nobody measured up in pass rush, coverage, or run stopping abilities. Essentially the majority of the defense is in the red for the Giants, and that needs to be addressed as urgently as anything the coaches will be examining this offseason. Players didn’t play, and when they did they made huge mistakes.  Week in and week out, mistakes in the form of missed tackles, blown coverage, mass confusion, hysteria… it got to be pretty pathetic by week 17.

And finally the ugly — and by ugly I mean UUUUUUUUUUGGGLYYYY.

CC Brown and Michael Johnson. We’ve been over this and over this, and CC Brown largely took the blame for the disgusting play in the secondary and I agree it’s as disturbing as anything you will see in your lifetime… but Michael Johnson was twice as bad. And not only was his play absolutely horrible, but he was on the field all the time!! He has the third highest snap count of anyone on the defense at 747 and he was BY FAR THE WORST PLAYER THE GIANTS HAD!!!  How in the world can you explain that?  I can’t believe my F$#@ing eyes when I see that kind of stat — I really can’t.

Look – I don’t have access to in depth footage like the teams do, I don’t sit in with the team and analyze film, I don’t take part in the coaches conference calls, I don’t draw X’s and O’s with Bill Sheridan — but I do know how to use my ojos and the one thing that was clear all along is that Michael Johnson killed the Giants’ secondary this year.   Atleast CC Brown was an excellent in-the-box safety who hits like a truck and can stop the run — atleast he has a redeeming quality to speak of.  It’s clear that CC Brown took the bullet, but Johnson sure as shit loaded up the gun.  Need it said another way?  Michael Johnson was the second worst safety in the entire NFL.  Here’s proof. (link)


In effect, less than half the defense played status quo ball… less than a quarter stood out as positives. The majority of the defense was detrimental to production, and more than a third of the unit down right screwed it up.  On a sliding scale, the Giants defense was tragic.  Say what you want about coaching, and we should, but first and foremost a lack of execution would be an understatement for the 2009 Giants Defense.

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10 Responses to “Unpacking The Players Performances: Defense”

  1. Michael S. says:

    Most of the coaches the giants are targeting run a 3-4 defense which is great in mind. Sure, everyone will say that we won the SB with a 4-3 but times change. Offenses know how to better protect the 4-3 since it’s been there longer. The 3-4 or hybrid (which is both) defense might be a great idea. I’m ALL for it.
    What I would do if we switch to a 3-4…. Enjoy
    -draft Terrence Cody for NT
    -move cofield and Alford to strongside end (5 technique)
    -move tuck weakside end but in a 4-3 end position (7 technique)
    -move osi and kiwi to strongside rush linebackers (nice rotation)
    -move sintim to weakside linebacker (better coverage skills)
    -Trade, draft or pickup in FA a middle LB to play next to Boley
    -Webster, Thomas , Ross, and Johnson are corners
    -Trade, draft or pickup in FA a great coverage safety to play next to KP21

  2. Chris says:

    I watched every game except the last one, and I was telling my friends ALL year how terrible Michael Johnson was. I’ve never seen him playing so bad. He did not make a single play. He showed up three seconds late to every tackle and every pileup. He must be in love or something.

  3. Jeff says:

    At some point, the stats become misleading. Sure Antonio Pierce had his share of tackles, but that means nothing if they’re 6 yards away from the line of scrimmage. By watching the games, you can see he can’t shed a block, and gets steamrolled on tackles, losing another yard or 2 after contact.

    • andrew ilnicki says:

      in that specific situation, yeah he’s not Ray Lewis.

      But overall he wasnt terrible and he is a great central play caller for the defense, great vision.

      • Cactus Jack says:

        I know AP has this reputation of being a great play caller for the defense, but when wideouts are running free in the outfield without a defensive back in sight, tight ends are running wild in our secondary and runners are running up our gut and around our ends without a hand being laid on them, I have to wonder where his reputation is coming from. Exactly what plays are he calling? Hmmm! Maybe he’s just following Sheridan’s orders.
        Cactus Jack

  4. CMH says:

    Amazing. Johnson seemed like a pretty solid player when performing in a back up or situational role past 2 years. Maybe he can thrive if we put him back there again.

  5. True.

    Andrew, I disagree with you about Michael Boley.

    Michael Boley was brought here to help in pass coverage and to get after the passer.

    According to

    Boley was the 9th best OLB in coverage this year (and becuase has cumulative scoring system) that’s very good becuase of the games he missed..had he played the whole season he probably would have been top 5 in pass coverage for OLB in a 4-3.

    Boley is not great vs the run…but he did is job in pass coveage

    He was also positive when he was rushing the passer.

    To me, Boley gets a pass because he provided what he was supposed to.

    pretty good pass rush and good pass coverage.

    I’m fine with him moving forward.

    Michael Johnson Was awful.

    I’ve always thought that his potential (ie best he could be) was an average safety…which is fine.

    But he was god-awful.

    People Blame Justin Tuck, but he’s one of the best two way defenders in the entier league.

    Suprisingly Pierce had a high coverage ranking and poor run ranking, which runs counter intuitive to us Giants fans.

    • andrew ilnicki says:

      thats why its good to have an impartial ranker like PFF.

      Pierce though is not usually good against the run, exhibit A) Brian Westbrook.

      The only overall decent LB we had was Danny Clark… thats saying something.

  6. […] Andrew Ilnicki wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:In the wake of the Bill Sheridan firing, I got to thinking that it would be helpful for us to establish an objective benchmark for how the players performed over the course of the season so that we can intelligently talk about changes … […]

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