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Should Giants bring Steve Spagnuolo back as defensive coordinator?

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Popular ex-defensive coordinator is currently a position coach with the Baltimore Ravens.

Steve Spagnuolo while defensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints
Steve Spagnuolo while defensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Hiring Steve Spagnuolo is the best move Tom Coughlin has made in his 11 seasons as head coach of the New York Giants. If Coughlin remains at the helm beyond this season, there seems to be a growing call for him to do with Spagnuolo once again running the Giants' defense.

So, let's do what we do here at Big Blue View. Let's talk about that.

If Coughlin remains, would re-uniting him with Spagnuolo make you happy? Or, at least appease you?

Where is this coming from?

Let's face it, if Coughlin stays -- and there is a lot of season to be played before a decision gets made -- Fewell is an obvious fall guy for what has gone on with the Giants this season. And, truthfully, for the past several seasons. The Giants are undeniably under-manned in the secondary with Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride on injured reserve.

That doesn't excuse the poor run defense. That doesn't excuse the constant confusion that seems prevalent on the defense. That doesn't excuse the lack of ability by players to understand or follow their assignments. It doesn't excuse the lack of pass rush. That doesn't excuse the sometimes mysterious game plans (insisting on playing nickel vs. run-heavy teams), the lack of aggression and the questionable use of personnel.

I have seen Spagnuolo's name pop up on Twitter as a possibility for the Giants. Our 'Raptor22' (@Raptormkll) has discussed it. Gary Myers of the Daily News, before he had to dodge verbal jabs from Tiki Barber, also called for the return of Spagnuolo.

The case for Spagnuolo's return

The Giants' defense is broken. Yes, it is short on personnel. Too many of the quality players in the secondary are hurt, and there weren't enough play-makers in the front seven to begin with. But there is also a seeming lack of creativity, a lack of aggression, a lack on the part of Fewell to just turn players loose and let them play. With Fewell it has always been that way. His DNA, unlike many defensive coordinators, seems to lean toward playing it safe. More and more, though, I'm uncertain players are buying into what Fewell is trying to sell.

From this vantage point, there is only one real way to play defense in the modern NFL. Aggressively. Quarterbacks and offenses in general are too good and too varied. You can't sit back and play coverage. You can't rush three. You can't be passive. Under Fewell, those things too often describe how the Giants try to play defense.

Spagnuolo learned under former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson -- and what he learned was to attack. It is an approach that the Giants, now 31st overall in the league defense and near the bottom in terms of quarterback sacks, need to get back to.

Spagnuolo was popular during his time in New York, consideredthen to be the head coach in waiting for current offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was anointed as such by the media and the fan base. From all accounts, Coughlin and Giants' ownership love him so a return should not be awkward.

Spagnuolo is currently secondary coach/assistant head coach with the Baltimore Ravens, so an offer to coordinate his own defense again in New York would be a step up and one he would almost certainly jump at.

So, what's to stop this from happening? Well ...

The case against Spagnuolo's return

There has been a lot of water under the bridge, and a lot of damage to Spagnuolo's reputation, since he left the Giants after the 2008 season. He is no longer a rising star in the coaching ranks. He is a tarnished ex-head coach trying to rebuild both his reputation and his career.

Spagnuolo went 10-38 in three seasons with the Rams, including seasons of 1-15 and 2-14. Granted, the Rams have been a mess for a long time and even veteran coach Jeff Fisher has not been able to completely turn them around, but 10-38 is still 10-38.

The biggest black mark on Spagnuolo's resume came during a failed stint as defensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. That was the year that New Orleans was without head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams due to BountyGate, making the situation a mess to begin with, but what happened with Spagnuolo that season raises a huge red flag.

The Saints were historically bad on defense that season, setting the league record for yardage allowed. It wasn't just, however. The accusations hurled at him by at least one Saints player are just as troubling, if not more so.

Here are excerpts of what an anonymous player said about Spagnuolo before the Saints fired him after that one season:

"It's bad ... To give up what we gave up can't be all talent. Look at where his units (have) been ranked before. I think one top 10? ...

"Players have no say in anything. It was (a) complete opposite from before where it was a simple D that players had lot of control and say. We couldn't suggest (expletive)...Nothing ever changed. It was his way only.

"Don't even get me started on lack (of) ability to adjust during games. Bad, bad, bad. ...

"He does have that good-guy persona, but he is a control freak and treats people like crap.(Spagnuolo has) no patience and zero personality."

It is hard to know what is true in here and what is not.

Perhaps the situation that year in New Orleans was simply an impossible one in which to succeed, and the statements above are just bitterness being fired at an easy scapegoat. This certainly doesn't sound like the aggressive, pedal to the metal coach that players, fans and the organization loved when he was in New York.

Perhaps, though, there is something to the allegations. Perhaps there is or was bitterness from his days in St. Louis that affected Spagnuolo in New Orleans. Perhaps he isn't the same coach, or person, he was during his stint with the Giants.

It can't simply be assumed that a Spagnuolo who would come back to the Giants in 2015 is the same one who left after 2008. The entire situation would need to be fully vetted, including his current work with the Ravens.

The floor is yours, Giants fans. Would a Spagnuolo return, with Coughlin remaining as head coach, work for you?