With better talent, Steve Spagnuolo was able to restore the Giants defense to its former glory this season in his second stint as the team's defensive coordinator.
He faces another big task Sunday in the team's first playoff game since the 2011 season -- containing Aaron Rodgers for a second time in three months at Lambeau Field.
The Giants lost to Green Bay 23-16 in Week 5, but held Rodgers to a 65.7 quarterback rating. Rodgers threw two TD passes and was 23-for-45 passing for 259 yards. But he also threw two interceptions and was hampered by several drops.
Spagnuolo's major concern in that game was tackling.
"The thing that I remember about that game was that we didn't tackle very well, and I think that we have to begin there first. Whether they run the football, or get it to wideouts, we have to limit the yards after catch. They are going to complete balls. That is just the way it is going to be. That is what he does. We just have to make sure that wherever the receiver catches it, he needs to be tackled there; and when they do run the football, we need to tackle better than we did last time."
The Giants went from dead last in the league in defense last season (419.3 yards per game); they are 10th this season (339.7).
But just as the Giants defense has been getting stronger at the end of the season, so has Rodgers. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes without an interception in the Packers' six-game winning streak.
"Against Aaron Rodgers, in my opinion and I may have said it before the last time we played him, but it is as much about what you do from whistle to snap as it is from snap to whistle," Spagnuolo said. "Usually everyone talks about that, how fast you have to play from snap to whistle. He is so good when the down is over as to what he is going to do on the next down, that you have to be ready for that, and if our verbal and visual communication isn't dead on, and it begins with me, I have to get a call in there quickly.
"The mike linebacker has to get it to the other 10, and we have to be ready to roll and he is the master at getting you off on that, and that is what he wants to do. He wants you out of sync and he wants to get you to substitute and he got us once the last time we played, we got stuck with 12 guys on the field.
"We are trying to avoid that this time around. But you have to play this game thinking fast and hopefully we do enough preparing during the week that our guys can just go out and play. But he loves to think and manage games, Aaron Rodgers. There is no doubt about that."