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Defensive Recognition

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After his inaugural season with the New York Giants where he improved his unit in nearly every major category, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell ranked No. 1, one spot ahead of the Dallas Cowboys' Rob Ryan.

Fewell, who broke into the league as a defensive backs coach under Tom Coughlin with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998, received four first-place votes and two second-place nods from the panel of eight divisional bloggers, finishing with seven more points than Ryan (also a defensive coordinator) and 15 ahead of New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in third place.

From day one of training camp in 2010, Fewell, a the North Carolina native, preached turnovers through his intricate schemes and numerous packages, and he succeeded in that category among others. The Giants led the league in takeaways with 39 (16 interceptions, 23 fumbles), up 15 from 2009 when New York finished tied for 10th in the NFC with 24.

The Giants also shed average net yards (310.8, No. 7), rushing yards (101.3, No. 8) and passing yards (209.5, No. 9) per game, coincidentally moving up six spots in all three NFL categories after sitting in the mid-teens the year prior. While only finishing at No. 17 in points per game (21.7), the Giants improved on their third-to-last ranking in 2009 when they gave up an average of 26.7.

With numbers like that in a league that saw seven new head coaches hired after last season, Fewell – who served as interim head coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2009 -- has become a hot commodity. The Giants defensive coordinator interviewed for four of those head jobs.

"He got a taste of the head-coaching seat when he had the interim job in Buffalo in 2009, and he's made no secret of his desire to land a more permanent head-coaching position," NFC East blogger Dan Graziano wrote. "Our panel thinks he will, as he was ranked first on four of the eight ballots and named on seven of them."

In an effort to compile a list of the next wave of head-coaching candidates from the current assistant coaching ranks, each ESPN.com blogger ranked their top 10 choices. Twenty-four assistants received at least one vote. Assistants who have previously served as full-time head coaches were not eligible for the vote.

Former Giants defensive line coach Mike Waufle received five votes after leaving for the same position at the Oakland Raiders in 2010. Waufle served for six years with New York, including the Super Bowl-winning team in 2007. Pepper Johnson, a linebacker drafted by the Giants in 1986 and a member of the Super Bowl XXI and XXV championship teams, received one eighth-place vote as the current defensive line coach of the New England Patriots. Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, once a coach with the Giants from 1993-96, also picked up a vote.

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