Fewell: Herzlich in 'command' vs. PHI
November, 27, 2011
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Monday night may be Act II for Mark Herzlich.
With Michael Boley (hamstring) out for Monday night's game in New Orleans, Herzlich is likely to get his second career start at middle linebacker.
And defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is eager to see what he can do in start No. 2.
He liked what he saw last Sunday against Philly.
"Against a good run team, I thought Mark was physical. I thought he was commanding in the huddle. I thought he was decisive in his reads. I thought he gained a lot of respect from his teammates by the way he played that football game," Fewell said on Friday.
Herzlich finished with four tackles and disrupted a few plays by penetrating the Philadelphia backfield.
However, he and the rest of the rookie linebackers (Spencer Paysinger and, to a lesser extent,
Jacquian Williams) had a tough time defending the middle of the field on pass plays. Vince Young was able to consistently find open receivers in the second level last Sunday.
You can bet Drew Brees is going to try and take advantage of the same holes if Herzlich & Co. allow them.
"Obviously, there are some things that he was to work on and he will work on in that pass game. But I was very pleased with how he played the run and how he fit the run and how he commanded our defense," Fewell said.
Defending the mid-range passing game is of particular importance on Monday.
Brees has had plenty of success finding Darren Sproles (60 receptions) and Jimmy Graham (62 receptions) on short and intermediate routes, where linebackers have a chance to make a play.
So the Giants are banking, in part, that Herlzlich, Paysinger and Williams (who has been stronger in pass coverage) can adjust quickly.
Boley, the guy Herzlich is likely to replace on Monday, thinks Herzlich, a cancer survivor who made the roster as an un-drafted free-agent, is up to the task.
"Mark is a play-maker. Even seeing some of the things he does at practice, he is always around the ball," Boley said.