NFC East: Mike Waufle
Top of my head, I thought of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. (We can't vote for anyone who's been a head coach, but we've decided that Fewell's stint as an interim head coach in Buffalo in 2009 doesn't disqualify him from the list.)
I also have a couple of guys with NFC East connections who aren't in the division anymore, including Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson and Raiders defensive line coach Mike Waufle, formerly of the Giants.
But this is a tricky and subjective thing, of course, since I'm not in a position to hire a coach. So I'm wondering who, on the coaching staff of your favorite team, has impressed you as someone who might have what it takes to move up to the big role in the future, near or distant. Fire away with your thoughts.
Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger reports that Coughlin is keeping his assistants at home and not sending them to the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala. I've talked to a lot of coaches who truly enjoy going to the Senior Bowl because they get an early look at players before their reputations are cemented at the combine.
I'll be checking in with scouts at the Senior Bowl on a daily basis, so I'll try to provide you with some nuggets next week.
Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger has been following every twist and turn of the Giants' search, and he says a lot hinges on what happens with Perry Fewell, who could end up becoming the defensive coordinator for the Bears. Garafolo even comes back around to another Bills castoff, Dick Jauron. That's the name we were telling you about from the start. And by process of elimination, Jauron's name might be moving up the charts.
It's pretty obvious that Coughlin's not interested in promoting from within. I bumped into The New York Times' Giants beat writer, Joe LaPointe, the other day in Irving, Texas, and he was very surprised that Coughlin fired defensive line coach Mike Waufle. The former Marine had been a player favorite and I've heard Justin Tuck talk about him many times. But it may have been Coughlin's way of sending a message. Several players complained about former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, so I don't think his firing upset them that much. But firing a guy like Waufle puts the players on notice that they got one of their favorites fired.
I wouldn't put it past Coughlin to make a sacrifice like that for what he feels like is the greater good.
Sheridan's firing was expected by everyone except maybe him. But players swore by Waufle, and his firing may have sent a stronger message. I think Tom Coughlin wants his players to know that there are consequences for their poor play, so he was willing to sacrifice a trusted coach.
I know that Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have sworn by Waufle in the past. He was a fiery guy who brought a lot of passion to his job.
Unfortunately, people lose their jobs when teams underperform on a grand scale. But rest assured, if the Giants have another .500 season, Coughlin could be the next coach to go. You can blame this season on injuries if you want, but you'll find several playoff teams who have had to overcome more. Just look at what the Eagles have had to overcome this season.
I think Kenny Phillips is a very talented player, but the Giants are supposed to be a team that overcomes adversity. Their collapse is one of the most remarkable stories of the season.
Firings might satisfy fans for a little while, but the Giants will have to do more than that to get back in the playoff conversation next season. Waufle was a really good football coach and he had to deal with an injury to Chris Canty and poor play from Rocky Bernard.
But coaches have a lot less stability than players.
Defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora get a lot of attention, but the mainstay of the Giants' defensive line since '06 has been defensive tackle Barry Cofield. He was taken in the fourth round out of Northwestern in '06 and he immediately became a starter. In his four years with the club, he's started all but one game. On Friday, the Beast had an opportunity to spend about 15 minutes on the phone with Cofield.
Barry, you guys aren't used to two-game losing streaks. What's this feel like?
Cofield: There are certain expectations around here and we don't handle losing too well. It's not a normal thing to be dealing with, and on top of that, we're going to Philly. I know you've written about last season's phone incident [with Donovan McNabb] and it's not like that's the most respectable thing a guy can do. But it's not like we need that for motivation. We're always going to want to kill Donovan McNabb -- even if he's the nicest guy in the world.
|Larry French/Getty Images|
|Barry Cofield is looking forward to Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles in Philadelphia.|
Cofield: I think [the defensive line] puts the Cowboys and the Eagles in the same category. I've played against the Eagles eight times in three years, so I'm pretty familiar with them. We know each other's schemes really well so you can just go out and play.
The Eagles have added some weapons to their offense. Do you see Andy Reid doing anything different than in the past?
Cofield: Andy Reid's still the braintrust. We'll see a lot of different formations and it's a team that has a lot of gadgets. But you're right, they have some new faces. They're exceptionally fast and they've also made a lot of changes up front. Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas were nasty guys. They were the cornerstones of that offense. Runyan was a mauler and some people thought he was dirty. Now they have a smaller guy in [Winston] Justice and converted tight end in Jason Peters on the left side.
How important will it be to get Chris Canty and Michael Boley back on the field?
Cofield: We look really forward to getting those guys back, but I really don't know when it will happen. [Tom] Coughlin doesn't tell us because he probably doesn't want me to leak it to guys like you.
Have you spent a lot of time preparing for the Eagles' Wildcat formation?
Cofield: They ran it with [Brian] Westbrook last year, so we've seen some of it before. We've gone back and studies some of the plays they ran in the preseason. If they don't use [the Wildcat] this week, they're not saving it for anyone else. This is the game you'd want to do it all.
What's the most important thing in mind when facing a quarterback like Donovan McNabb?
Cofield: With McNabb, you have to get him to the ground. You pretty much have to treat him like a running back and it's important to wrap up his legs and drag him to the ground. If you don't, he's strong enough to shake tackles.
Have you guys gone back and looked at that '07 game where Winston Justice had so much trouble against Umenyiora?
Cofield: Definitely. Our position coach Mike Waufle had breakdowns that go all the way back to '04. They have a new wrinkle here and there, but they still have their bread and butter. We don't focus so much on entire games. We look back at a lot of plays. But to get back to Justice, he's definitely come into his own since that '07 game.
What do you make of the Eagles' fans?
Cofield: They are some of the rudest fans that you'll meet. But they're almost some of the most passionate. We've had our team bus egged, we've been flipped off and we've seen some bare [rears]. It's a different kind of atmosphere, that's for sure.
Mosley: I know you think the Beast spends too much time praising Tuck, so I'm glad you were able to join us for a few minutes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The New York Giants hosted two unrestricted free agents Saturday -- and ended up signing both. We've already talked about linebacker Michael Boley, but later in the evening the Giants signed former Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard.
The Bernard negotiation took longer than Boley's, but it didn't come close to breaking down. Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty was having dinner with Giants defensive line coach Mike Waufle when Bernard's deal was completed. The Giants would love to have Canty, but he's asking for somewhere in the $8 million per year range.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese isn't going to bite on that deal. And I'm not sure Canty would be a great fit in the Giants' defense. He wouldn't be able to do much damage from the edge, and I think he may be a little overrated as a run stuffer. He has impeccable character, though, and I'm sure Bill Parcells and Al Groh are in Tom Coughlin's ear about him.
Is there any way he ends up back in Dallas? I wouldn't bet on it.