Perry Fewell’s Defense Will Determine Whether Giants Can Turn Things Around in 2010

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It's already been a difficult offseason for the Giants, who lost wide receiver Domenik Hixon (knee injury) and rookie safety Chad Jones (car accident) for the duration of 2010. But there's more going on in New York, so let's take a closer look at the Giants on the 14th stop of NESN.com's 32-day pilgrimage through the NFL.

2009 Record: 8-8 (missed playoffs)

2010 Schedule Difficulty: Their opponents went a combined 135-121 (.527 winning percentage) in 2009, which makes for the seventh-most difficult schedule in the NFL.

Key Additions: Safety Antrel Rolle, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (draft), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (draft), safety Deon Grant

Key Losses: Linebacker Antonio Pierce, punter Jeff Feagles

Burning Question: Will the addition of Perry Fewell improve the defense? The Giants' defense was embarrassingly horrendous in 2009, particularly in relation to how good that unit had been in previous seasons under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was hired as the Rams' head coach. The Giants replaced him with Bill Sheridan, who was fired immediately after the 2009 season.

New York allowed 26.7 points per game, which ranked 30th in the NFL, and they surrendered 32.4 points per clip in their last 11 games, when they were a sloppy 3-8. They also gave up at least 40 points on five occasions, including three of their last four games.

Fewell had done a nice job as the Bills' defensive coordinator from 2006-09, and he performed even more admirably after taking over as Buffalo's head coach midway through last season, leading a downtrodden team to a 3-4 finish. However, after Buffalo ownership fired Fewell and the rest of its coaching staff in January, the Giants might have gotten a steal of a defensive coordinator.

2010 Outlook: The NFC East is always tough to forecast. Sometimes, it's a vicious gauntlet, and other times, it's plain overrated. This could be an average year for the division, with the Cowboys leading the way and the Giants, Eagles and Redskins battling for second place and a potential wild-card berth. If Washington and Philly have a tough time with their transitions at quarterback, that could work out favorably for the stable Giants (although, now's a good time for the Eli Manning bashers to throw their stones).

The Giants still have talent, and they're a good team, but they've always struggled with consistency under head coach Tom Coughlin.

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