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Giants name Bill Sheridan DC


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Tom Coughlin today moved swiftly and stayed in-house to fill an important vacancy on his coaching staff when he named Bill Sheridan as the Giants’ new defensive coordinator.


Linebackers Coach Bill Sheridan was named Defensive Coordinator on Monday


Sheridan, who turns 50 on Jan. 27, has been the team’s linebackers coach for the past four seasons. He succeeds Steve Spagnuolo, who is being introduced today as the St. Louis Rams’ new head coach. Spagnuolo was the Giants’ defensive coordinator for two years.


The Giants have been to the playoffs in each of Sheridan’s four seasons with the team.


“Bill is a very good football coach,” Coughlin said. “He does an excellent job of teaching, of reinforcing what we aspire to be with our defensive team. He’s coached our linebackers, he’s given a big assist to Steve in all that he has done. As a linebackers coach, you’re a central figure in the spoke, because you’re involved in the coordination of the front and the linebackers and then the back seven. He has done a good job of encompassing the entire defense and grasping the aggressive style.”


Sheridan spent the first day in his new role traveling to Mobile, Ala., where he will scout players this week at the Senior Bowl.


“Obviously, I’m thrilled,” Sheridan said. “I’m humbled but very, very excited and anxious to get going. I’ve prepared my entire career for this opportunity. I owe this to Tom Coughlin and Steve Spagnulo and the rest of the defensive staff – Peter Giunta, Mike Waufle, Dave Merritt and Andre Curtis. This is nothing more than a reflection of the success we’ve had here.”


Sheridan played an integral role on a defensive staff that helped the Giants win a Super Bowl and an NFC East title the last two seasons. Despite losing Michael Strahan to retirement and Osi Umenyiora to a season-ending injury, the Giants’ defense improved from seventh in the NFL to fifth in 2008, allowing only 292.0 yards a game. It was the unit’s highest ranking and the fewest yards allowed since 2000, when the opponents of the NFC champions gained 281.4 yards per game. The Giants were ninth in the league in rushing defense (95.8 yards) and eighth against the pass (196.2). They were fifth in scoring defense, allowing 18.4 points a game.


Sheridan said he will keep Spagnuolo’s system in place but will modify it according to his preferences and the players’ strengths.


“I’m sure, as much as anything, that’s Tom’s motivation for promoting from within, whether it was me or Peter Giunta – to keep the defense in place,” Sheridan said. “It’s obviously a proven, excellent system that Steve brought from Philadelphia. You’re obviously going to have a slightly different tint to it, because you have a different coordinator and will get different input from whoever Tom brings in from outside to complete the staff. But the system is in place and there’s a tremendous comfort level with the players.”


The Giants were eliminated from the playoffs last week in the divisional round, but Coughlin emphasized the recent success the team has had is one reason he preferred to promote from within.


“We won 26 games here in the last two years,” Coughlin said. “Despite the fact that we’re all miserable, there is an inclination when that happens that you would stay within.


“Continuity is important to me, but the strength of staff is important, too. We’ve lost Steve, our coordinator, but it takes many, many people to be successful and to function properly. Of course, all the coaches on the defensive side of the ball did an outstanding job in working together. They worked very well together. There was great harmony on that side of the ball. I want to keep that, I want to keep the continuity, I want the players to know that the fact they have performed to a high level the last two years is, in a way, being rewarded. One of the coaches from the staff has been elevated to the coordinator’s role and the terminology will stay the same."


Coughlin yesterday interviewed both Sheridan and Giunta, the secondary coach/cornerbacks, who was the defensive coordinator for the Rams team that won Super Bowl XXXIV following the 1999 season. Coughlin said he was impressed with both coaches. He informed both coaches of his decision early this morning.


“Both were very good,” Coughlin said. “Peter has been a coordinator before. I just felt in my gut that Bill would be the right choice.


“My questions to the two candidates were: ‘How do we get better? Where do we go from here?’ Both had very good answers, very solid, aggressive, going forward-type answers. And that’s the message that I want. The message that goes out there is we do have the New York Giant defense, we will play the New York Giant defense, we will recognize our players and our coaches that have attained a couple years of good, solid play here. And our intentions going forward are that we improve and be better. We’re excited about the opportunity to get this group together again and add some other players to the group and to improve.”


The Giants’ linebackers have played well under Sheridan’s tutelage. He joined the team the same year as Antonio Pierce, who was a Pro Bowler the following season, a first alternate this year and is recognized as one of the NFL’s finest middle linebackers. Sheridan helped Mathias Kiwanuka make a successful transition from defensive end to strongside linebacker before the third-year pro returned to end this season after Umenyiora’s season-ending injury. Chase Blackburn has developed from a little-known rookie free agent to NFL starter under Sheridan.


"It's good to know that there will not be many changes," said Pierce. "Bill is a hard worker and is very familiar with the defense. Obviously, we did great things on defense over the last two seasons, and I am looking forward to what Bill will bring as defensive coordinator."


“Coach Sheridan has been very in tune to everything we've done on defense over that last two seasons,” defensive tackle Fred Robbins said. “He should have no problem adjusting to his new role as defensive coordinator. It's good that we will not have to start this whole defense over. We've been in it for two seasons and we've had success, we all know the system and it will be good to continue to work in it.”


All-Pro defensive end Justin Tuck also endorsed Sheridan as the new defensive coordinator.


“Coach Sheridan is a very knowledgeable football guy,” Tuck said. “He's a quality coach. It's good that we kept it in-house so we can continue to improve on a successful defense. I'm very excited to see what coach Sheridan will do in his new role.”


Umenyiora, Pierce, Robbins, Tuck, and defensive backs Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips help form a strong defensive nucleus.


“We have good personnel,” Sheridan said. “Every team in the league has needs and we’re in the process of identifying those as we go into free agency. But there is no doubt we have an excellent returning nucleus, as we have had here. That is one thing Jerry Reese and the personnel department have done – we have gotten players, especially in the draft. We have excellent young players on defense.”


Sheridan said he learned much from Spagnuolo in their two years together.


“Not just the scheme itself – the fundamentals of the scheme itself and the pressure package,” Sheridan said. “I think Steve did a great job of looking at our defense as our opponents did, with a self-scout mentality. He was always trying to be one step ahead with regard to how we were being viewed by our opponents.”


Sheridan came to the Giants from the University of Michigan, where he coached the linebackers in 2002 and the defensive line the following two seasons. He coached the safeties and special teams at Notre Dame in 2001 and the linebackers at Michigan State from 1998-2000. Sheridan also had coaching stints at Maine, Cincinnati and Army.


“I liked the fact that he had great versatility,” Coughlin said of his decision to bring Sheridan into the NFL. “He had coached the linebacker position, the defensive line position and the secondary. And he coached at some great places – Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan State. He’d been at Army with Bob Sutton. He had been at some outstanding programs and schools that not only win but are very high in tradition. He had been exposed to different coaches and people that I have respect for and he came very highly recommended.”


The Giants retained all of their coaches after winning Super Bowl XLII last year. In the last week, they have lost two assistants, Spagnuolo and assistant offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who is the new line coach with the Miami Dolphins. Coughlin was asked about filling the void left by Sheridan’s promotion.


“I’m now going to begin to find the best coach,” Coughlin said. “If it happens to be a linebackers coach, fine. We’ll progress that way and try to find the best coach. My position is always to strengthen. That’s my whole goal, to strengthen. The philosophy that I’ve always operated by, and it was developed a long, long time ago, is you do have to have a chain of command, so the process does work efficiently. But every guy, no matter what his job is, has to be doing it to the best of his ability and the players that he coaches have to play to the best of their ability in order for us to be successful. So for me, it’s the idea of strengthening, always trying to be aware of the people you have in place and how best can another coach suit the group that’s presently here, but add to us and help us be a better staff and a better team.”

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