Giants’ Fewell Downplays Game Against the Bills

Forget that Fewell was the Bills’ interim coach for the final seven games of the 2009 season, or that they passed him over and chose Chan Gailey to become the coach the following season.

The only thing of importance for him is that the Bills (4-1) and their high-powered offense are coming to MetLife Stadium on Sunday to play the Giants (3-2) and Fewell needs to get his inconsistent defense to start communicating better in order to shut them down.

“It’s just a game that we have to win,” Fewell said Thursday after practice. “I just happen to know those guys on the other side though.”

While Fewell didn’t admit it outright, he left the impression that he didn’t get a fair shot at keeping the head coaching job after posting a 3-4 record in Buffalo.

“It’s been two years and whether I did or didn’t, I think that’s irrelevant,” Fewell said. “I’m happy to be where I am now.”

Fewell took over as the Giants defensive coordinator last season and the unit rebounded after a dreadful 2009 season, finishing ranked in the top 10 in many categories.

This year has been more of a struggle and injuries have played a big part.

Terrell Thomas, who was the Giants’ top cover cornerback, and middle linebacker Jonathan Goff were both lost before the start of the season with knee injuries. Defensive captain Justin Tuck has only played two games because of neck and groin injuries and fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora missed the first three games after having arthroscopic in the preseason.

The results aren’t surprising. The defense is ranked 20th overall. The run defense has been horrible the past three games, yielding an average of 160 yards and the pass defense has blown coverage after coverage, including a total bust on Charlie Whitehurst’s go-ahead touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 36-25 loss.

On the play, cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Antrel Rolle thought the other was going to take the receiver and no one did.

“It’s about communication,” Fewell said. “I think we weren’t communicating. When you use that form of communication verbally everybody doesn’t always get it at the same time. I think I need to do a better job and maybe (put) wristbands on the guys so that everybody knows what the call is. If one person doesn’t know then he has to say it to everybody else. I think I can do a better job and help our players if I do that for them.”

The Giants had better improve because the Bills have been machinelike on offense. The team is averaging just under 33 points and it has scored at least 20 points in five straight games.

“We’re trying to learn how to play together. That’s the biggest problem that I think we have right now, learning how to play together,” Fewell said. “So yes, my focus is more on us than it is the Buffalo Bills because we have to learn how to complement each other and we don’t know how to complement each other at this point in time.”

Buffalo has used a balanced offense. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,233 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions and running back Fred Jackson is third in the NFL with 712 yards from scrimmage.

Fewell has a special feeling for Fitzpatrick. After he took over as coach, he made the Harvard player his starter.

“He looks very comfortable in this offense,” Fewell said, noting it’s a totally different scheme than he had. “He’s making quick decisions. He’s getting the ball out extremely fast. His receivers and he are on the same page. He just looks like he’s in total control and he knows exactly what they want to do with this offense.”

Tuck, who has missed the last two games with neck and groin injuries, was just one of many players who said Fewell has kept an even keel in meetings this week, occasionally offering a little insight into certain Bills players.

“I think it means more to us than it does to him,” veteran safety Deon Grant said of Fewell. “He is just going to go out and call his game, but a little better now because we have to get back to playing New York Giants defense.

“We as a defense, we want to get him this victory more than anything.”

Bookmark and Share

Bills Coaching Staff Latest to Side With Owners

Speaking for the entire Bills staff, offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins expressed support for team owner Ralph Wilson while distancing himself from the NFL Coaches Association’s decision to side with players in their bid to have the lockout lifted.

In a two-sentence statement released by the team on Thursday, Modkins said Bills coaches was unaware of the coaches association’s intention to file a brief to a federal appeals court last week supporting the players.

“Our entire staff had no prior knowledge, nor were we consulted that the Amicus brief was being filed on behalf of the coaches,” Modkins said. “We support Mr. Wilson. Our focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season.”

The Buffalo News first reported Modkins’ comments on its website Thursday.

Modkins’ statements are similar to ones issued by coaching staffs in Washington, Jacksonville and Philadelphia since the NFLCA submitted its brief to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering whether to allow the lockout to continue.

The NFLCA sided with the players in arguing the lockout should be lifted because it is putting its members’ jobs in jeopardy.

No individual coaches were identified in the brief, which said that the eight new coaches hired this year face particularly daunting odds of success if the lockout is not lifted soon. The Bills staff enters its second season after being assembled by Chan Gailey last year.

All Bills employees, including coaches, have been affected by several cost-cutting measures instituted by the team since the lockout began in March.

The team has made across-the-board cuts in salaries ranging between 20 and 25 percent. The Bills have also suspended making contributions to employees’ pension and plans during the labor dispute, and potentially for the remainder of the year.

Bookmark and Share

Bills RB Spiller, DE Johnson Expected to Miss Week

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. As much as running back C.J. Spiller wants to practice this week, coach Chan Gailey doesn’t think that’s likely because of a hamstring injury.

On Monday, Gailey all but officially ruled out the rookie first-round draft pick from playing in Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati on Sunday. He also said defensive end Spencer Johnson is expected to miss at least one game because of a hamstring injury.

Both players were hurt in helping the Bills (1-8) secure their first win of the season on Sunday, a 14-12 victory over Detroit.

“If you talk to C.J., C.J. thinks he’s going to be hoping to practice probably this week,” Gailey said. “Probably a realistic thing is he’ll miss one (game), and then we’ll see from there.”

Spiller was hurt when planting his foot to brace himself as he was pushed out of bounds after a 29-yard punt return in the second quarter.

He said he didn’t initially feel the injury until after he got up and began making his way across the field to the Bills sideline.

On Monday, Spiller walked with a slight limp favoring his right leg, and said he wants to practice once the team returns on Wednesday.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

Without Spiller, newly signed running back Quinton Ganther will take over the backup duties to starter Fred Jackson. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin will handle both kickoff and punt returns in place of Spiller and receiver Roscoe Parrish, who was placed on injured reserve last week after he broke his wrist.

Johnson, hurt in the second half against Detroit, was spotted in the Bills locker room with a wrap around his upper right leg.

Gailey called it an “outside chance” that Johnson will practice this week, and said the player could miss as many as two games.

Gailey also updated the status of Shawne Merriman, saying he doesn’t expect the linebacker to begin practicing until next week. Merriman aggravated a right Achilles’ tendon injury early into his first practice with the Bills on Wednesday, a week after being claimed off waivers from San Diego.

Bookmark and Share