Perry Fewell scrambles for answers when it comes to underachieving defense

Defense wasn’t a strong point when New York won the Super Bowl last year, but the unit played beyond the numbers come the post-season.

This season, the Giants defense took a step backwards in their regular season standings.

Ranked 18th in the NFL in points allowed (22.5 per game), 28th in passing defense and 25th against the run, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell conceded his defense is not playing as well as he expected.

“It’s frustrating for me and for the defense to give up the big play. That’s been our nemesis all year. Have we worked to eliminate the big play? Yes, we have. Have we been able to do that? No, we haven’t,” he said.

“They’ve been playing hard, but they have to make up in their mind that we have to make some plays. We have to get a spark from somebody. Somebody has to go through and make a football play and get everybody going, either offensively, defensively or special teams.”

One element that has not changed from 2011 to 2012 is turnovers forced.

Last year, New York finished the regular season with 31 turnovers, tied for the sixth-best best mark in the NFC. This year, through 15 games, the turnover total has increased to 34,the second-best mark in the conference.

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The problem, Fewell explained, is timing. The Giants have not forced a turnover in either of their last two games, both of which coincided with losses.

“We preach ‘em. We work on ‘em. Again, we’ve been in position, we haven’t made a football play for the last couple of weeks. We’ve been in position to make football plays, but it hasn’t gone our way,” he said. “They say turnovers come in bunches and sometimes we get them in bunches, and right now, we’re on a dry spell, a two-game dry spell. We’re going to work like the dickens to get turnovers in this football game.”

When the Giants take the field Sunday with their playoff lives at stake, there is a cloud of uncertainty hovering over a number of defenders — questions about health, production and whether they will be a member of this organization in 2013.

Among them: Justin Tuck. The Giants’ defensive end is dealing with a shoulder injury, but has registered just three sacks this season.

“Justin is trying to play hard, but he’s not making any plays,” Fewell said. “Just like our guys haven’t made any plays in the last couple weeks, that’s just a function of us not making plays. You have to make plays in the football game to win football games.”

Linebacker Michael Boley expressed frustration with his playing time. Fewell addressed the issue, explaining injuries have been the culprit.

Injuries have also plagued Prince Amukamara, who is questionable to face Philadelphia with a hamstring injury. Jayron Hosley would start in his place.

The combination of Amukamara and Hosley at cornerback has also become a hot topic of late, as veteran Corey Webster’s future with the organization is now in doubt.

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