Logical. Safe. Expected. Those are the words I think of as my initial reactions to Tom Coughlin's decision to bring Steve Spagnuolo back to the New York Giants as defensive coordinator.
Logical because Coughlin doesn't have time to mess around. The Giants haven't made the playoffs in three seasons and have had two straight losing years. Whatever the Giants do about his contract, Coughlin's future is on the line in 2015. Win double-digit games, get to the playoffs and he can probably pretty much write his own ticket as to when and how he leaves the Giants. Another playoff-less losing season and, despite how much the organization and the players love the old man, and how much he wants to stick around, Giants' ownership will almost certainly start over with a new head coach.
Pepper Johnson is likely an excellent position coach, and probably will develop into a fine defensive coordinator once someone gives him the opportunity. Dennis Allen probably could have done a good job, too. Coughlin is not, however, in a position where he can afford to find out. He needed to hire someone who has done this successfully before and, preferably, someone who had worked with him previously, which will lessen the adjustment period. Spagnuolo gives them both.
Safe because this is a guy who Coughlin already knows. Very well. Spagnuolo also enters the job with tremendous support from inside the Giants' organization, and with the blessing of a fan base that remembers how much fun it was to watch the Giants play defense during his first tenure in 2007 and 2008. Also because this means there won't be a radical schematic change for players to get used to. Instead, the differences will be more subtle with the play-calling -- hopefully -- more aggressive.
Expected because from the time the speculation began that Perry Fewell might lose his job Spagnuolo was always considered the leading candidate. He has always been to this race what Hillary Clinton is to the field of Democratic presidential candidates -- the biggest name, the front-runner. The candidate considered most likely to end up with the nomination.
Now, all of that said one question remains. Is Spagnuolo the RIGHT choice for the job?
We won't know that, truthfully, until the dust settles and we see what kind of defensive product the Giants put on the field in 2015. We know Spagnuolo will bring passion and fire to the defense, things that have too often been missing in recent years. Was the 2012 season with the New Orleans Saints, when Spagnuolo coordinated the worst defense in NFL history as the Saints allowed a record 7,042 yards. We won't know until we see whether or not Spagnuolo can have success without Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and a young Mathias Kiwanuka. Without Antonio Pierce orchestrating the defense at middle linebacker.
Certainly, though, this is the choice that seemed all along to give the Giants the best chance of success in 2015. Which, right now, is the only year they care about.