After a second straight losing season in which their defense ranked 29th in the NFL, the New York Giants have parted ways with defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
The Giants announced Fewell's ouster Wednesday as part of a "restructuring of their defensive coaching staff." Defensive backs coach Peter Giunta also will not return next season, the team announced.
"These are two outstanding men and outstanding football coaches," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said in a statement released by the team. "It is very hard in this business to find people that are not only good football coaches but outstanding human beings who are trustworthy, loyal and honest. Perry and Peter are all that."
Giants owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese said last week that it would be up to Coughlin to decide on his coaching staff for 2015.
At that time, Coughlin offered a somewhat spirited defense of Fewell, and as last week wound into this week, indications were that the Giants were planning to keep the defensive coordinator. But Coughlin also said last week that he was not finished evaluating his staff, leaving open the possibility that he could change his mind.
A source close to the situation told ESPN that Giants special-teams coordinator Tom Quinn also was still being evaluated this week and that his job status remained in question.
The Giants could make other changes to their defensive coaching staff, although those likely will wait until a new coordinator is hired so that he may make them or at least have input on them.
Fewell was the Giants' defensive coordinator for five years, including their Super Bowl-winning 2011-12 season, after serving four years as Buffalo's defensive coordinator and part of one year as the Bills' interim head coach.
The Giants' defense ranked eighth in the NFL in total yardage in 2013 but took a major step back in 2014 amid season-ending injuries to three of its top four cornerbacks, middle linebacker Jon Beason and defensive ends Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers.
"No one person is responsible for what happened in this year," Coughlin said in the statement. "That has to be loud and clear. If there is any one person responsible, it is me. It is not Perry Fewell. It is not Peter Giunta. Both of them are outstanding football coaches in their own way.
"The simple fact of the matter is in the circumstance that we find ourselves, change is necessary. That may not be the most eloquent way of saying it, but that is what I am confronted with. The hope always is invigoration. You are going to stimulate. It is with great deliberation over a lengthy period of time throughout a thorough investigation and evaluation of what went on that I came to the conclusion that change was necessary. There are no hard feelings on my part about anything that anybody has done. The hard feelings are the six wins. That is the reality. It is unfortunate, but it is true."
Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith and former Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen are likely to be considered candidates to replace Fewell, and there are some in the Giants' hierarchy who would like to pursue former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as Fewell's replacement. Spagnuolo currently is a defensive assistant with Baltimore Ravens.