Giants fire defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan became the first victim of the New York Giants’ collapse in 2009.

Coach Tom Coughlin dismissed the rookie coordinator late Monday afternoon, just hours after saying that Sheridan’s future with the team was going to be evaluated in the wake of an 8-8 season that ended with losses in eight of the final 11 games.

The firing also came the same day that co-owner John Mara vowed to make changes after seeing the season end with two embarrassing losses in which the Giants were outscored 85-16.

The defense struggled this season, giving up 427 points, ranking it third from the bottom in the NFL. Only the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams gave up more points. Opponents scored at least 40 points in five games, the first time that has happened to the Giants since 1966.

Neither Sheridan nor Coughlin was immediately available for comment, but Sheridan said last week that he expected to return, noting he felt he did a competent job in a year where the defense was hurt by injuries to middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, safety Kenny Phillips and cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross.

Defensive end Justin Tuck said earlier Monday that changing coordinators would mean that the defense will have to get used to another person and possibly another system.

“Obviously, everybody is held to a higher standard, especially here,” Tuck said. “We expect to be in the running for a championship every year. When that doesn’t happen, you’ve got to look at yourself and look at the people around you. I am speaking as far as staff. You make a decision for whatever it may be, we will deal with it when the time comes.”

Sheridan was elevated from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator after Steve Spagnuolo became the Rams’ coach. Spagnuolo was the architect of the defense that led the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in February 2008.