EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A miffed Perry Fewell accused some members of the New York Giants defense of quitting in the blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints and he vowed that will not happen again.
The Giants defensive coordinator could not explain why the Giants (6-5) played so poorly in the 49-24 thrashing that knocked New York out of first place in the NFC East and left many wondering whether the team was ready for a third straight second-half of the season collapse.
“It was so disappointing from my perspective that as I watched it on Monday and watched it the next day, it was one of those games that you want to bury,” Fewell said Thursday after practice. “The energy level, what we did, it baffled me, OK. It baffled me. You’re supposed to have answers, but sometimes you can’t explain a game like that.”
The numbers were sickening, especially for a defensive coordinator.
The Saints gained 577 yards in total offense, the second highest total an opponent has mustered in a single game in the Giants’ 87-year history
Fewell gave credit to Drew Brees and the Saints offense. It was fresh coming off a bye week and Brees made quick, accurate throws that the Giants simply could not cover.
However, Fewell wanted more from his unit.
“We have to play with more passion,” said Fewell, who is in his second season as the Giants defensive coordinator. “That was a game against a playoff football team. We have aspirations of being a playoff team and sometimes it’s the will, the will to get it done. We didn’t will ourselves to get it done. That’s what I can explain. Why we didn’t will ourselves to get it done.”
Fewell said he let the defense know just how he felt this week and he seemed certain it would show up Sunday for what is now a crucial game against the undefeated Green Bay Packers (11-0).
Speaking after practice Thursday, he virtually guaranteed that the defense, which has had only three sacks in the last three games, would put pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We’re going to get to the quarterback period, OK.,” Fewell said. “We’re going to get it done.”
When asked how the Giants were going to do that with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora nursing an ankle injury — the team won’t disclose which ankle — and fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck having a sub-par, injury-plague season, a wry smile crossed Fewell’s face.
“I am going to coach better,” he said, “and they are going to play better, that’s it.”
The one thing that Fewell knows won’t happen again is that this team won’t quit. Late in the game, cornerback Corey Webster seemed to stop in his tracks when it became obvious that Pierre Thomas was going to score on a 12-yard, fourth-quarter run with the Saints already ahead 35-17.
Fewell’s blood pressure seemed to spike when asked about “pulling up” late in the game.
“That was disheartening, no doubt,” Fewell said. “Me being the coach and the leader of the defense, that was disheartening, and when I say it was disheartening, it was disappointing more so than disheartening because we don’t coach that. We don’t coach pulling up short and we’re not going to accept pulling up short.
“So, we won’t pull up short again.”
After looking into the eyes of his defense on Wednesday and watching them practice the past two days, Fewell senses a different attitude.
“There wasn’t a lot of talk,” he said. “We said: ‘Hey, actions speak louder than words and we’re going to do what our words say.’ I think they took that to heart. Instead of boasting and bragging about what we are going to do, I think the way they prepared in practice today showed a lot about what we can do.”
Doing it against Rodgers will be difficult. He has posted a 100+ rating in 11 straight games, making him the first quarterback to do that in NFL history. He also has thrown at least two touchdowns in each game this season in extending the Packers’ overall winning streak to 17 games, a run that began with a 45-17 win over New York on Dec. 26.
Fewell vowed the Giants are going to get after Rodgers and when he gets out of the pocket, they are going to hit him.
“We look forward to the opportunity to play these guys,” Fewell said. “That is my confidence level. We’re going to show up and we’re going to play on Sunday.”