Eight days ago, Perry Fewell paced the field at MetLife Stadium and called defensive plays for a Giants unit that held the Redskins to six points and zero touchdowns in the 2013 season finale.
On Monday, he interviewed to become the head coach of the team he helped stop.
In the late December game in New York, Fewell’s defense forced four Redskins turnovers. In eight years as an NFL defensive coordinator, Fewell’s defenses have ranked in the top 5 in takeaways four times and in the top 10 for each of the past five years.
Fewell has 16 years of NFL experience but lacks a full season of head coaching under his belt.
After the Bills relieved Dick Jauron of head coaching duties in 2009, Fewell finished out the season as the interim head coach. Buffalo won three games under both head coaches that year, but Fewell had two less contests than Jauron in the lead role.
Players in Buffalo felt the impact of the change as soon as the first team meeting.
“From that very moment, he took ownership of the team,” safety George Wilson said in a 2010 article in The Star-Ledger.
“He changed expectations, he changed the way we traveled, he changed the way we practiced. Guys rallied around it, and we played our best football when he was leading the way.”
In the same piece, several players painted Fewell as an enthusiastic coach who treats his players with respect and emphasizes teaching.
After the Bills cleaned house, Fewell found a landing spot in New York. He was reunited with Tom Coughlin, his boss during five seasons he coached defensive backs for the Jaguars.
Upon hiring Fewell, Coughlin said his early impressions of Fewell held true.
“I was impressed with his thoroughness, his ability to work with the players and his absolute intent on learning all he could about his profession,” Coughlin told the Associated Press in 2010.
“Perry is a teacher and a leader and I thought he did an outstanding job of displaying great leadership as the interim head coach of Buffalo this season.”
Fewell has proven to be an effective coordinator in four years with the Giants, dialing up defenses that have finished in the top-8 in the NFL twice. Although New York’s defense was ranked 31st in yardage last season, the Giants tied for 12th in socring defense.
Statistically speaking, Fewell’s unit had a down year in 2011, when it ranked 27th overall and 25th in scoring defense. But the Giants were No. 5 in takeaways and won a Super Bowl XLVI. The Giants held the Patriots to a season-low 17 points in the win.
Upon reviewing the game, NFL Films analyst and senior producer Gregg Cossell was fascinated by Fewell’s scheme against an innovative New England offense that utilized two game breaking tight ends.
“The Giants game plan was boldly conceived, and well executed,” Cossell wrote. “Fewell brilliantly recognized the strengths and limitations of the Patriots passing game. It was an outstanding defensive performance.”
In 2013, the Giants rebounded from an 0-6 start to finish 7-9. Fewell’s defense ranked No. 8 overall and No. 18 in scoring.
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