Sizing up the candidates: Perry Fewell

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
12:30
PM ET
The Washington Redskins interviewed Perry Fewell on Monday. Here's a scouting report on him as a coach.

Age: 51

Position: New York Giants defensive coordinator.

Recent background: The Giants hired him as their defensive coordinator after the 2009 season. In terms of total yards, the defense under Fewell has ranked seventh, 31st, 27th and eighth in his four years. In scoring, the Giants have ranked 17th, 25th, 12th and 18th under Fewell. While it seems like the Giants always have a good defense, that hasn’t necessarily been the case when it comes to the rankings. They finished with top-10 units twice under him; that’s one fewer than they had in the previous nine seasons.

The past: Fewell has bounced around. This is his second stint with Giants coach Tom Coughlin, having served as Jacksonville’s defensive backs coach from 1998-2002. He was the defensive backs coach in St. Louis (two years) and Chicago (one) before taking over as Buffalo’s defensive coordinator in 2006. He went 3-4 as the Bills interim coach to close the 2009 season. All four of his Buffalo defenses ranked 24th or lower in total yards.

What I’ve heard: Runs the gamut. Heard him described as energetic. Also heard one person from a former team dismissed him as someone who could be a head coach. Another coach who knows Fewell considers him a great guy and enthusiastic, but that he doesn’t have that X factor it takes to be a head coach. He also thought the pressures of being a coordinator weighed on him and wondered what being a head coach would do. This job can age coaches in a hurry. But Fewell earned praise for being flexible with his defense. A group of players came to him early last season and asked him to change things around. Apparently, they did not like the scheme and how he was calling plays. So that’s a good thing. The tough part, though, for some is that there were too many negative stories coming out of the locker room. As one coach said, the less you hear about things the better a job you’re doing.

Potential fit: I don’t see it. Nobody I spoke with raved about Fewell in terms of being a head coach, though his defenses in New York have been good. Not that this necessarily matters, but I’m not sure what he offers that others don’t. I like that he’s flexible; I don’t like when coaches are so married to a scheme that they lose sight of what needs to be done. And Fewell showed a couple of times in New York that he’s willing to listen to his players. If he’s upbeat and energetic, that’s a plus, too. But I think the Redskins will have options they like better.

Suggested reading: Would the Giants try to keep Fewell if he’s offered a head coaching position? ... More on Fewell listening to his players. … Putting it on the players. … Starting 2013 on the hot seat. … An upbeat look at Fewell when he arrived in New York.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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