The coordinator of the NFL's worst defense isn't letting that rank ranking undermine his confidence. Quite the contrary.
Perry Fewell, coming off one of the worst showings by his group during his tenure with the Giants and in charge of a defense that just had the worst four-game stretch of any in team history, was talking as if he holds the keys to the most dominant one in the NFL.
"We're competitors, man,'' Fewell said Thursday. "We're going to come and compete and get us a victory on Sunday.''
At this point, why not make such a boast? If the Giants (3-6) continue to lose, he's likely to be one of the scapegoats who will lose his job at the end of the season. If they win, he can take credit for inspiring the players and fixing a defense that allowed 350 rushing yards to the Seahawks last Sunday.
Of course, to fulfill the Fewell Prophecy, the Giants have to play better. Much better. Most glaringly, they have to fix the way they defend the read-option, the play that caused the most damage against them in Seattle.
Fewell said he's not changing the scheme very much but will change the way he and the staff teach it.
Several players said this week that there was a gap in understanding assignments against the Seahawks that allowed Russell Wilson to run around the edge uncontested on several opportunities.
"We put a lot of energy into making sure that we explained exactly what the assignments were and we also walked through the different assignments,'' Fewell said. "We've continuously mentally and physically and verbally gone through option football assignments.
"It's very frustrating,'' he added. "We should know how to play that better.''
Fewell said that sometimes players got too caught up in trying to tackle Marshawn Lynch, who was running through the middle. That led to outside players inching toward the dive, which gave Wilson the space he needed.
Against the 49ers (5-4) on Sunday, the Giants will face an offense that uses the read-option but also has a power running game with Frank Gore and a quarterback who excels at making deep throws on the run (see: Colin Kaepernick's game-saving fourth-down pass against the Saints last week).
Fewell put the yoke of having the 32nd-ranked defense in the NFL on his own shoulders.
"I'm personally responsible for everything, for all facets of the defense, and I take it personally, sure,'' he said.
He also vowed that the Giants will not remain at the bottom of the rankings. They fell 10 spots in the run defense rankings, from 22 all the way to the cellar, after Sunday's loss. Their overall ranking fell five places from 27th. They've been as high as 16th this season (albeit after Week 2).
"We have to go to work,'' he said. "We have seven games. We're not going to stay there. We're going to get out of that situation.''
There has been plenty of talk about Fewell's job security, about his schemes, about the way he seems to smile when the Giants allow the many big plays that they do. He said he doesn't worry about any of those things.
"The outside criticism, I kind of block that out,'' he said. "My concern is improving the New York Giants. We all want the same thing. We want to win. We want to be the best we can possibly be. And we're going to put every effort into doing that because we have seven games to crawl out of that [32nd-ranked] spot.
"We'll crawl out.''