cover32’s own Grant Gunderson put together a great, insightful piece about current assistant coaches in the NFL that could be in line for a head-coaching job in the very near future. However, his list of the top 10 candidates lacked a coordinator from the New York Giants.
For what it’s worth, that may be fair. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has some things to prove in his current role before gaining recognition and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has fallen off the radar after a few underwhelming performances by the Giants defense.
But it begs the question: why not Fewell?
The Giants’ defensive coordinator has head-coaching experience, having worked as the Buffalo Bills interim head coach during the 2009 season before joining the G-Men in 2010. For the past few seasons he has been a candidate for some jobs, though he has never made it past the interviewing process.
Why could that be?
Fewell compiled a 3-4 record as the Bills’ interim head coach and was considered one of the top candidates for the permanent job before they chose to hire Chan Gailey (who they fired following the 2012 season). He’s proven to be a strong motivator, able to get a quality defensive performance out of a group of backups and subpar talent at certain positions during his tenure with the G-Men (most notably at linebacker and in the secondary).
While Fewell’s defenses have given up large chunks of yardage throughout his time in New York, they have become well known for their penchant of forcing turnovers and putting pressure on the quarterback. He is not afraid to adapt to the current game nor is he opposed to adjusting what he does with the talent provided to him to make the Giants the most successful team they could possibly be on the field.
Fewell has gotten a lot of flak for the Giants’ underperformance on defense at times. However, a quick look at the roster of players he has had to deal with at times actually benefits him when you consider what the team was able to overcome.
His job getting the defense prepared for their 2011 Super Bowl run cannot be overlooked. The Giants did not field a good defensive unit during the regular season, but their postseason stretch was one of the best defensive performances in franchise and it culminated in a big 21-17 win over the high-powered New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
Obviously, Fewell cannot be credited for all of that on his own. But it should put in the conversation for more head-coaching vacancies. And maybe it has.
Fewell scored an interview with the Washington Redskins this past offseason and though he did not land the job, he will have a chance to regain some steam as a top coaching candidate in 2014.
The Giants have finally provided Fewell with capable talent in lacking positions that could allow for his defense to star like it never has before. The G-Men will field three of the NFL’s top 15 cornerbacks in terms of quarterback rating (fifth-ranked Trumaine McBride, 13th-ranked Walter Thurmond and 14th-ranked Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), per Pro Football Focus, surprising star linebacker Jon Beason will return and their top-flight group of safeties (Antrel Rolle, Will Hill and Stevie Brown) are expected to place among the league’s best once again.
Unlike years past, the Giants defense is constructed to excel against the pass. That is something Fewell has lacked since arriving in New York despite the team playing in a pass-happy league.
A big year could put the 51-year-old coach at the forefront among candidates for a job in 2015. Then, the Coughlin disciple might finally get his chance to show what he’s capable of as the head coach of a NFL team.