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Aaron Ross: Caught in the Cross Hairs

The Giants secondary has been scorched the first two weeks of the 2011 season.  Through two games, the Giants have allowed 566 yards.  According to ESPN New York,  the Giants pass defense have given up the ninth most net passing yards in the NFL.  With three former number one draft choices and a second rounder in the secondary, this is puzzling.  Despite having tremendous talent in the secondary, FLOPGATE coordinator Perry Fewell take on the Giants leaky pass coverage: “We had some problems,” said coordinator Perry Fewell, whose defense was picked apart by the likes of journeyman Rex Grossman and second-year pro Sam Bradford. “Some of the issues were the same in week one. Some were different. I felt like we got better last week. I saw some improvement in our secondary play, but then I saw some lapses in our secondary play. We’re a work in progress. We’re going to continue to work to get it right.”  Fewell is minimizing a serious problem.  Fewell has concluded his talented and veteran secondary is a work in progress.  This is completely ludicrous.  Is Fewell leveraging his talent accordingly?  Well, let us focus on much maligned cornerback Aaron Ross.  Ross, the oft-injured former first round draft choice, has been awful in coverage. 

In fact, in an interview on Sirius NFL radio, NFL expert Pat Kirwan talked about Ross’ shaky play.   If it wasn’t for all the injuries in the Giants secondary, Ross could have been released. Because of all the injuries to their defensive backs, Ross became a de facto starter.  As a result of his poor play, Ross was benched on Monday night.  Head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters the following about Ross’ benching: “It was an attempt to find a solution to one of the problems we were having,” Tom Coughlin explained. Could the solution be playing more press coverage?  

Four years ago, Aaron Ross was the Giants number one pick.  Even though new GM at the time Jerry Reese was targeting Darrelle Revis and Leon Hall, instead, Ross fell into the Giants’ lap.  Reese shared this about Ross:  “He fits our scheme — a big guy with long arms who can battle big receivers,” said Jerry Reese, the Giants’ first-year general manager.  When Ross became a Giant in 2007, they had a defensive coordinator named Steve Spagnuolo who favored press coverage. The Giants expect Ross to become their best coverage option against the league’s taller and stronger receivers. He is a fraction over 6 feet tall and weighs 195 pounds, and he excelled in the tight one-on-one “press” coverage favored by the Giants’ new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo. After Spags departed after the 2008 season, the Giants inserted Bill Sheridan.  And Sheridan’s defense was a disaster.  In 2010, Perry Fewell was named defensive coordinator.  Fewell brought his Tampa 2 scheme to New York.  In a Tampa 2, the cornerbacks do not play much press coverage. Fewell emphasizes watching the quarterback’s eyes rather than the receiver.  If you have not noticed, under Fewell, the Giants defensive backs allow way too many free releases.  This is the complete opposite of Ross’s skill sets as well as  the other Giants defensive backs.  Even Ross admitted on Thursday, the key to slowing down the Eagles receivers is “You have to get your hands on them and that’s the main thing to slow them down.” 

Hopefully, Fewell sees the error of his ways.  If the Giants are going to fix this pass defense, more press coverage is needed.  Let us hope a combination of press coverage and an overwhelming Giants pass rush, slows down the Eagles offense.  And for pete’s sake,  let us snap this losing streak to the Eagles.  Go Giants!