- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An angry Perry Fewell said he saw some players stop short on plays against the Saints last Monday for the first time in his role as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator.
And he vowed that his players not only won't do that anymore, but he says the Giants' defense will show up against undefeated Green Bay and "get after (Aaron Rodgers') a--."
"I was pissed," Fewell told reporters about his mindset with his defense this week after New Orleans crushed the Giants 49-24 on "Monday Night Football." "They got the message and we all understand what is on the line for us."
"I think we got that message across," Fewell added. "Sometimes if you speak soft, walk soft and carry a big stick, the message gets heard."
The Giants defense was completely outclassed by the Saints, giving up 577 yards of total offense, the second-highest total allowed in franchise history since 1943. Quarterback Drew Brees torched the Giants for four passing touchdowns and scored another one on a run.
And worse yet, Fewell saw some of his players stop short on plays, something that is absolutely unacceptable for a team that is on a three-game losing streak.
"No doubt," Fewell said of seeing some Giants stop on plays. "Being the coach and the leader of the defense, that was disheartening. It was disappointing more than disheartening. Because we don't coach that. I am going to say it like this, we don't coach pulling up short. We are not going to accept pulling up short, so we won't pull up short again."
"We were outplayed, outhustled, they played with more effort, more energy," Fewell added. "We got outcoached. We just didn't play well last week. For whatever reason, I can't explain that. I don't think any of those guys can explain that either. We prepared well, we didn't perform. Bottom line."
Now the Giants (6-5) have to find a way to slow down the most prolific offense and quarterback in the NFL. Green Bay averages a league-best 34.7 points per game. The Packers have won games by an average of 14.1 points per game.
Priority number one for the Giants is to get to Rodgers, whose mobility makes defending him all the more tougher. But Fewell says if Rodgers runs, he will get hit.
"We have to be very disciplined in our rush lanes," Fewell said. "But more so than disciplined, we got to get after his a--. If we do that and he scrambles, then that is the price he is going to have to pay because we are going to hit him. We are going to hit him."
The Giants pass rush, though, has been quiet. Since having five sacks against Miami on Oct. 30, the Giants have registered a total of five sacks in their last four games.
In the last two weeks, the Giants have just one sack, coming against Vince Young and the Eagles. Opponents are bringing more maximum protection schemes to neutralize the Giants pass rush. Also, the Giants have to win more one-on-one battles.
"Oh, we are going to get to the quarterback," Fewell said when asked about the stagnant pass rush. "Period. OK? We are going to get it done."
This week, they will be without Osi Umenyiora, who is sidelined by an ankle sprain that will keep him out for at least two weeks. Jason Pierre-Paul will start in his place and coach Tom Coughlin and Fewell both went out of their way to praise the second-year defensive end for his hustle throughout the Saints loss.
Coughlin also singled out Pierre-Paul's energetic effort to his players as an example of how the defense needs to play.
"The energy level and what we did ... it just baffled me," Fewell said.
Even more vexing has been the Giants' lack of response when opponents strike first. Two weeks ago, the Eagles knocked Eli Manning down from behind after an interception in what the Giants felt was a cheap shot. DeSean Jackson also taunted Fewell after a 50-yard catch by flipping the football to him after the play. But the Giants never retaliated on the field and the Eagles were much more physical.
And then on Monday night, the Giants let Brees have his way.
"I've never been on a team where a team punches us in our mouth and we won't punch back," safety Deon Grant said. "Usually, we'll be the first one to punch and last week those guys punched us in our mouth and we didn't have an answer for it. You turned on that film (on Tuesday), shoot, we didn't know who each other were."
If the Giants suffer a second straight blowout loss, their playoff hopes will shrink even more. They will still have a shot to perhaps win the NFC East with two games remaining against Dallas and another against Washington. But the Giants know if their defense disappears again, there could be consequences at the end of the season.
"I know one thing, we are going to keep fighting and we still believe in Coach Fewell just like it was Day 1," defensive captain Justin Tuck said when asked if the defense still backs Fewell. "I haven't seen any evidence of (players) going against him. We are still as attentive in the meetings and listening to what he has to say with every word as if Day 1. I don't know what will happen in the future but obviously I haven't gotten anything that warrants me worrying about us costing him a job."
If anything, some defensive players might have to worry about their jobs if Fewell sees more players stopping short on plays this Sunday.
"Sometimes you got to give them a kick in the a-- to get their motor going," Fewell said. "Sometimes you have to give them a good shake to remind them what is at stake. But they all have that will."
"We look forward to the opportunity to play these guys," he added. "That is my confidence level. We are going to show up and we are going to play on Sunday."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.
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