Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giants: Off season musings


It sure looks like Bill Sheridan's career has come down to earth after a recent, sudden rise. The Dolphins announced that they hired Sheridan as their Inside Line Backers coach. That's quite a step back from his job as DC with the Giants. The Dolphins are looking for a DC after firing Paul Pasqualoni and apparently Sheridan was not considered for the DC position. He wasn't even taken as the LB coach, but only the Inside LB coach. Retrospectively, we can probably assert that this was a terrible hire by Coughlin a year ago. First, Sheridan's job as DC with the Giants was the only time in his career that he ever had a job as high as coordinator and he did it in his first stint in the NFL, with the Giants being his first trip to the pros. Sheridan's career resume looks like this:

Bill Sheridan
Born: January 27, 1959, Detroit
High school: De La Salle, Detroit
College: Played LB at Grand Valley State
Coaching career:
1985-86: University of Michigan - Graduate Assistant
1987-88: University of Maine - Linebackers Coach
1989-91: University of Cincinnati - Linebackers Coach
1992-97: Army - Linebackers Coach (1992-95), Defensive Backs Coach (1996-97)
1998-00: Michigan State University - Linebackers Coach
2001: University of Notre Dame - Safeties, Special Teams Coach
2002-04: University of Michigan - Linebackers Coach (2002), Defensive Line Coach (2003-04)
2005-09: New York Giants - Linebackers Coach (2005-08), Defensive Coordinator (2009)
2010: Miami Dolphins - Inside Linebackers Coach

Sheridan was a college position coach for 18 years, from 1987 through 2004, never with one of the dominant national programs like Alabama, USC etc. He joined the Giants first as LB coach in 2005, two years before Spagnuolo came to revive the defense. He was LB coach for 2 years before Spagnuolo arrived and served without particular distinction. When Spagnuolo arrived and revived the entire defense, Sheridan was probably riding his coat tails and had his LB's play well because of the overall improvement of the defense. He then ascended to DC in 2009 with disastrous results. By contrast, Spagnuolo's apprenticeship began in 1984. He was defensive position coach and also defensive coordinator in several college programs. He served also as defensive coordinator for a few years in NFL Europe and in one year managed to coach 9 of his 11 starters on the Frankfurt Galaxy to graduate from Europe to jobs in the NFL. After fifteen years of experience coaching he returned to the NFL in 1999 as LB coach under Jim Johnson of the Eagles and served for 4 years as the DB coach and then 4 more as LB coach. His resume and seasoning was complete. I am not saying that the only way to become a DC in the NFL is to be a coaching lifer with 20 years of experience coaching, some at the DC level and a good portion of it in the NFL. But it sure helps.

Look at the Jim Zorn experience in Washington - he had never been a coordinator at any level in his coaching career and was hired to make a big step from QB coach to OC. Before serving as a day as OC, he made the double jump directly to HC. How did that work out for him? There's no substitute for experience.

A second look back at the Giants offense of 2009

My friend Ray sent me an email and made some excellent points about the Giants offensive
performance this past year. I have copy and pasted the mail below:
Offensively, the Giants executed a huge disinformation project all year long. For most of the year, they hid the fact that Jacobs, Seubert and Hedgecock were all significantly hurt. Hence, week after week, Coughlin preached running the ball, and Jacobs promised that he would get 100 yards next week, but, in fact, the only game plan they had available to them was to have Eli throw, which, week after week, they did. It is a credit to Eli and the receivers that the offense scored as any points as it did – enough to win several games at least. And one can hope that, if those three players come back to form (a big if, I admit), the offense will be OK.

Some very good observations, as always from Ray. Ray also says that, as much as we like Kevin Boss, the Giants could use a bigger playmaker at that position. I agree. I am also eager to see more speed and playmaking from the RB position. Even if Jacobs comes back, he has never shown that he is a threat to catch passes out of the backfield, notwithstanding the one 70 yard run that he made against the Cowboys late in the year. Bradshaw was hurt all year also, but I am not confident that he has the pure breakaway speed that you need at the position. Giants need to upgrade the speed and pass catching ability at the RB position. Giants should also do something to upgrade the OL - either at T or at LG or both. They have to get younger and more athletic.

The risk is that the Giants will sit tight and presume that the injuries are the cause of the 8-8 performance this year, but I am fairly confident that Reese will avoid that trap. Remember Reese's action in the first year he took over - he got rid of a bunch of aging players that were often hurt: Pettigout, Arrington, Emmons, Demp and a few others I can't recall right now. His philosophy is that injuries are part of the game and have to be managed as part of the personnel evaluations. When a player ages and starts to get injured, the pace of continuing injuries usually increases and simply has to be considered, as cruel and cold as that seems. I expect Reese to do the same surgery this year as he did in his first year with at least some of the aging veterans that were injured this year, including: Pierce, MacKenzie, Robbins and Seubert.

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