Giants have the most vanilla, uncreative defensive packages in the league. The read and react nonsense that Fewell runs puts no pressure through confusion on the opposing offenses. Giants have no deception, no disguises, no switching in and out of defenses, no showing presnap reads to the QB and switching to something else. If the DL dominates, which they are capable of, the defense looks great. If not, Giants defense is vulnerable.
I like the speed at LB on the Giants defense, but the LBs played the worst game of the year against the Redskins. They made no tackles for losses in the running game. They bit on every play action fake leaving wide open WRs because they were invisible in their drops. Of course, Fewell plays only zone, so the DB coming from behind looks like he gets beat on every one of those easy pass completions. In fact, the outside LBs have been invisible lately, Blackburn is the only one in the LB corps making any plays. The 3-S look doesn't work against the Redksins power runing game. A 3-4 look might work better, though of course you can't change for 1 game in the middle of the season. Playing the LBs a little wider in the 4-3 scheme would also be better against all the stretch plays that the Redskins run. Fewell just had no answers, no creativity to stop the 'Skins. The rest of the Giants schedule is tough, but at least they are more conventional offenses which won't fool Fewell.
In any scheme, offense or defense, if you're predictable, you're dead. Giants are very predictable on defense and can only beat teams, good or bad, like the Packers that take the similar approach. Packers attitude is: we have a great QB and great set of WRs, why do we need to be deceptive? We'll just beat the stuffing out of you with our talent. When their talent wanes a little and their OL declines, Giants can beat them. But teams that are creative and can handle the Giants DL give them trouble.
Even on offense, I think Gilbride is a good coach, though Eli makes him look better than he really is. But he has been the Giants OC for a long time and the league has gotten use to the Giants tendencies on offense. They can move the ball between the 20's, but inside the 20 you need some deception, some innovation and/or a killer running game. The fact that the Giants have so much trouble closing drives and settle for many short FGs indicates a problem more in the coaching than the personnel.
It is clear that this is why the Giants lost and despite Coughlin's wails, it goes beyond penalties; they left points on the board on their drives. Giants outgained the Redskins, which is a little misleading because Giants had terrible field position all day and had more field to cover on their drives. But instead of counting yards gained, consider the following. Each team had one drive that moved the ball well and failed to produce points: Giants on their missed first half FG and Redskins on their fumble inside the 20 which Rivers recovered. On the other drives, Giants had 4 successful scoring drives and Redskins had only 3. But FGs are worth 3 and TDs are worth 7.
Coughlin said that the Giants need to win their last 4 games and I think he's right. The Redskins, the way they are playing, have a good chance at sweeping their last 4 games and finishing 10-6. They have a tough game this week at home against the Ravens. But after that they have 3 very winnable games: Browns, Eagles, Cowboys. If they get to 10-6, the Giants will have to finish ahead of them, because their division record will be 5-1, while the Giants will at best be 3-3.