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New York Giants Defense Admittedly Confused in Perry Fewell’s 4-4 Defense

December 24th, 2012 at 4:30 PM
By Dan Benton

In a must-win week 16 game, New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell decided to mix things up and experiment with a rare 4-4-3 (and 4-4-2-1) scheme. The idea behind the change was to slow down Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, but things quickly backfired. Linebacker Chase Blackburn admitted after the game that there was a ton of personnel confusion, which resulted in a frequently "vanilla" defense.

"It seemed like they had 13 guys on the field, and then two would run off. So we were in a messed up personnel, especially early," Blackburn said. "And then we basically had to stay more vanilla at times, because personnel were coming in so late."

Not only did the alignment cause confusion amongst the players, who were not used to that style of defense, it also resulted in some of the Giants' most athletic players seeing fewer snaps than those that reside below them on the depth chart.

Blackburn led the way with 79 snaps, which included several one-on-one's against Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, while Mark Herzlich (60), Jacquian Williams (36) and Spencer Paysinger (31) all saw more snaps than Michael Boley (21), who is widely considered the Giants most well-rounded and consistent linebacker.

Further, the 4-4-3 and 4-4-2-1 scheme left both linebackers and safeties in one-on-one situations (like the aforementioned Blackburn versus Boldin matchup) against wide receiver and tight ends. Safety Antrel Rolle often found himself playing cornerback, while Stevie Brown or Will Hill acted as the lone deep safety. It also left Corey Webster isolated on Torrey Smith, who abused the veteran all day long.

The concept behind that scheme makes sense, but as the team struggled, adjustments should have been made. They weren't, and Fewell stuck with the 4-4-3 and 4-4-2-1 throughout the majority of the game. As a result, the previously struggling Ravens offense, led by the highly inconsistent Joe Flacco, came to life and were able to put up 33 points on Big Blue – their third highest point total all season and the most they had scored since a week 10 victory over the Oakland Raiders (55-20).


Tags: Antrel Rolle, Baltimore, Baltimore Ravens, Chase Blackburn, Corey Webster, Football, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Spencer Paysinger, Stevie Brown

8 Responses to “New York Giants Defense Admittedly Confused in Perry Fewell’s 4-4 Defense”

  1.  Krow says:

    Taking a break from a family party in Buffalo where my son lives. Being surrounded by Bills fans makes me feel a lot better.

    4-4-2 huh. Well you stuff the midfield, but you’re vulnerable to a counter. Especially if you flirt with an off side trap. Oh … You mean American football .. Then it’s just stupid.

  2.  oymishu says:

    Yes, can someone explain the 4-4-3 term to me. I’ve seen this type of notation applied to soccer formations but never football. Does it mean 4 linemen, 4 LBs, and 3 DBs?

    Not hating, just never seen this used in the context of football before.

    •  demo3356 says:

      It means pulling out a safety and adding another LB. It is a GREAT defense for youth Football and High School Football. It allows you to control all gaps and keep outside contain. If ran correctly with personnel that fits the scheme it is virtually impossible to run on. It is however very vulnerable to the pass and wil be shredded by any competent passing game. I run a 4-4 on my sons team and ran it on my older sons team up to high school. His High school team runs a 4-4 as most around here have for a while. Amazingly though there are a few schools that were able to install and execute a spread offense which spells doom to the 4-4.

  3.  jb322 says:

    Yes, that’s what it means. Why on earth in one of the most important games of the season would you put in a defense you haven’t played or practiced all year?

    •  TonyMW says:

      I agree. Don’t get me wrong, the 4-4 does have its place in certain situations and with certain personnel, but Fewell went about it all wrong. This is very much akin to his 2 DT active strategy against the Colts when he figured they’d pass on us all day. He thinks too much and gets too cute. I don’t like it.

  4.  TonyMW says:

    The Giants 2012 defense looks eerily similar to the 2009 defense that got Bill Sheridan fired:


    Rushing- 130 ypg (4.6 avg) 13 plays 20+ yds.
    Passing- 257 ypg (8.2 avg) 70 plays 20+ yds. 90 QBR allowed
    22.5 ppg
    32 Sacks
    27 Turnovers


    Rushing- 110 ypg (4.2 avg) 21 plays of 20+ yds.
    Passing- 214 ypg (7.4 avg) 61 plays of 20+yds. 95 QBR allowed
    26.7 ppg
    32 Sacks
    19 Turnovers

  5.  GmenMania says:

    Osi says he most likely won’t be back with the Gmen next year. And I’m not all that disappointed; as much as I love everything he has done for this team, we need some fresh blood.

  6.  turkish says:

    Fewell has no idea what he is doing…I rest my case. Ya fired!

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