Coughlin talks defense, Osi

INDIANAPOLIS--When defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo left to take the head coaching job in St. Louis at the conclusion of the 2008 season, the Giants knew their defense was in for a change.

But the drop-off the team experienced in just one year's time was severe enough to cost Spagnuolo's replacement, Bill Sheridan, his job.

New York went from the fifth-rated total defense (292.0 yds/gm) to the 13th (324.9 yds/gm). In addition, Big Blue gave up an average of 8.3 more points per game in 2009, while watching their sack total drop from 42 in 2008 (sixth), to 32 in 2009.

Friday afternoon in Indianapolis, head coach Tom Coughlin addressed the defensive concerns.

"I expect us to return to being the kind of football team, defensive football team, that the New York Giants have always been," Coughlin told reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday afternoon. "We were not a very good football team last year on defense."

The Giants are just two years removed from a Super Bowl title that was won in large part due to the efforts of a defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in sacks in 2007, with 53.

But the 2009 defense was just a shell of its former self. And as a result, changes had to be made.

The Giants began the overall quickly after their 8-8 season ended, firing defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.

"The simple fact of the matter is I felt that we needed to make a change and we did," said Coughlin.

Coughlin also took some time to discuss the situation regarding defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who made it known during Super Bowl week that he would rather retire than be a backup, which was his role towards the end of the 2009 season.

"Osi's a big part of our team and we expect that he'll come back and work as hard as he can and be a big part of our defensive rejuvenation."

When asked what Coughlin thought about Osi's statement that the defensive end wanted assurances that he will start in 2009, the head coach didn't hesitate.

"I don't know how you do that. Our field is a field and the competition is good. It's like we tell to everybody: Go work for it."

Apparently, Coughlin just doesn't hand out starting jobs.

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