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Antonio Pierce resurfaces

Antonio Pierce spoke about his former team.

Former Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce appeared on NFL Network’s Total Access program.   In this three minute unfiltered segment, Pierce talked openly and honestly about the woeful 2009 defense,  Bill Sheridan,  Osi Umenyiora,  Tom Coughlin, and his future. 

On the 2009  horrendous defense:  Safety Kenny Phillips season ending injury was a huge loss.  Phillips’ loss coupled with Pierce’s neck injury resulted in a unit which lacked vocal leadership.  With Phillips done for the year and Pierce out for an extended period of time, there was a leadership vacuum. 

On Sheridan:  Supposedly, Sheridan was going to keep former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.  On the contrary, according to Pierce, this was not the case.  After the Giants’ defense thrived for two years under Spagnuolo, his replacement Sheridan coached the defensive players differently.  “And this became the problem.”  The Sheridan problem manifested into freelancing. 

“It started out with good intentions, players were doing more than they were asked to do in an attempt to make up or compensate for issues that we couldn’t correct from one week to another,” Kiwanuka explained. “And then from there it just snowballed into when you were on the field, you had 11 guys freelancing and you have no idea where the other person is going to be or what to expect and teams are taking advantage of it. Once things started going downhill, people quit buying into the system and it is tough. There were errors all over the board.”

“We didn’t believe in the system that we had and people didn’t trust that the positions that we were put in were always going to work,”Kiwanuka said when asked what went wrong last season. “We had a high enough of a maturity level to overcome it but for some reason the passion just wasn’t there.”

After an ugly December loss to Philadelphia at home,  Andy summed up Sheridan’s inept defense.   Bill Sheridan inherited an excellent defense from Steve Spagnuolo. He has proceeded to degrade this unit into an unrecognizable mess of bad schemes and blown coverages.

On Osi:  Osi was frustrated.  When Osi got benched,  it ruined team chemistry.  If one guy like Osi  is unhappy, it wrinkles feathers of other players.

On Coughlin:  In 2010, Pierce believes Coughlin is on the hot seat.  The Giants are a team three years removed from a Super Bowl to a team which finished 12-4 (number one seed in NFC) to  8-8 and no playoffs.  Because of the recent abhorrent turn of events,  Pierce says, “Fires are lit on people’s butts in this organization.”  

 Last December, a clueless Coughlin admitted:  “Until we put back to back wins together, I don’t know what we are going to have on Sunday.”     At that time, Andy wrote the following:  If the head coach does not know what he is going to have on Sunday, isn’t that an indictment?  Those are the coach’s words, not mine.  

  On his future:  Because of the severity of his neck injury, Pierce will have to undergo surgery.  After this surgery,  Pierce admitted his NFL career will most likely be over.

Pierce’s candid verbal recapitulation of the 2009 Giants is refreshing.  His insight has helped  unravel certain triggers (injuries and coaching) which caused a once promising 2009 season to wither away.   In spite of all of this, amazingly, Coughlin still has a job.  It is my judgment, after the season was over, Coughlin should have been fired.  I made my case on Sports Radio New York on the Frankie the Sports Guy program. (February 7th program).   Since Giants’ management gave Coughlin another year to get his team on the right track, in my opinion, the Giants have to make the playoffs and win a playoff game. This will ensure Coughlin  job security beyond 2010.  Undoubtedly,  making the playoffs, is going to be a challenge.  With Mike Shanahan taking over as head coach of the Redskins, the NFC East got  more competitive.  Additionally, the Giants play their AFC games against a very formidable AFC South division. ( Indianapolis, Houston, Tennessee, and Jacksonville)  And the Giants will play road games at Minnesota and Green Bay.   Yikes!! 

 Despite having a difficult 2010 schedule, let us hope Coughlin can right the ship and steer the Giants in the right direction-by winning another Super Bowl championship.