New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been itching to incorporate the three safety look on defense that helped the Giants win it all last season. However, he felt he lacked the proper personnel to do so. Now with the emergence of Stevie Brown, Fewell feels using three safeties on the field at the same time can help the Giants defense once again.
"Really because Stevie has emerged and come on like this, it gives me more ideas to have the three-safety package," Fewell said. "And now we can go forward with that."
After safety Kenny Phillips went down with a knee injury, Brown stepped in and produced at a high level. Despite beginning the season as a back up, he leads the NFL in takeaways. Three of them, including two interceptions and a fumble recovery, helped the Giants pull out a key victory last week against the Dallas Cowboys.
Phillips is expected to return for this Sunday's game against the Steelers, giving Fewell a plethora of talent at safety to play with. Last season, Anrel Rolle was used in the slot, while Deon Grant played in the box with Phillips playing deep. With Brown's production in Phillips' absence, it would've been difficult for Fewell to take Brown off the field, but with this package he doesn't have to.
"Our plans can totally focus on, hey, we have a three-safeties package with three good players in there," Fewell said.
The question does rise, when the Giants are in a two safety formation, will Phillips regain his starting position right away?
"We haven't determined that," Fewell said. "Brown's been playing really well right now. It's hard to unseat him right now. We'll find a way for Kenny to get on the field."
Translating that last quote sounds as if Brown will get the nod, but Fewell will still find a way for Phillips to see the field (most likely in the three safety set).
Phillips is aware of how well Brown is performing and knows he may not become the starter right away. However Phillips is a team player and will do whatever the team needs to succeed.
"He did what he was supposed to do. He took advantage of his opportunity," Phillips said. "It's rare that a guy loses his position to an injury, but it's possible with the way he's been playing. But I'm not worried about it. Whatever role they give me, I'll take it. If I have to back up my backup, I'll do it."
Fortunately, Stevie Brown feels the same as Phillips does in terms of playing time.
"If that's how it goes, that's how it goes," Brown said. "It's a role. I'm just here doing my role. Kenny was the starter and if he continues to be a starter, I'll just go back to doing what I was doing. It's in the coach's hands. I'm just doing whatever I'm asked to do."
The Giants are fortunate to have such professionals in this situation. Both Phillips and Brown have that team-first mentality that help teams like the Giants win championships. The emergence of Stevie Brown will help the Giants on defense immensely so long as the three safety set works as efficiently as it did last season. Fewell is blessed to have players with a team-first attitude that makes his decision much easier.
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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