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Steve Spagnuolo forced to revisit unpleasant memory of Saints' game

Defensive coordinator looks back on nightmare game.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

When he met with reporters on Thursday, New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was desperate to talk about Sunday's upcoming game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"Let's talk about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right? Can we talk about the Bucs? What do you want to know about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?," is how Spagnuolo opened his press conference.

Alas, not everyone in life gets what they want. And that includes NFL defensive coordinators who would rather not discuss the historically awful game their team played just a few days ago. Spagnuolo was dragged into discussing last week's debacle against the New Orleans Saints even though it was a place he did not want to re-visit.

Spagnuolo said that the game film, which the team reviewed on Monday, was "a tough one to watch," but that it is now "put to bed."

"We don't feel okay defensively because we've got to get some things squared away," Spagnuolo said. "But look, we're beyond it now. You have to, you've got to let it go. You can't be looking in the rear view mirror, you go backwards. That's where we're at."

Let's look at a few of the other topics Spagnuolo addressed on Thursday

The potential return of Jason Pierre-Paul

Spagnuolo said he was "hopeful and optimistic" that Pierre-Paul would play against the Buccaneers, but that the ultimate decision was "above my pay level."

Spagnuolo said he didn't know yet if Pierre-Paul would have to be used situationally at first.

"As it gets closer to that, I think we may have to do that," Spagnuolo said. "Look, every player wants to play all the time but sometimes you have to protect players from themselves because it's hard to go from not playing very much football at all and playing a high volume of numbers. So we'll try to be smart with it."

Spagnuolo added that the Giants were "hopeful," Pierre-Paul could help their anemic pass rush, but "we're not going to know."

"He's a good football player and hopefully he can go out there and give us some needed pass rush. But I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on him," Spagnuolo said. "When I say that, I'm not going to publicly put that kind of pressure on him. I think he's going to put it on himself, he's a prideful guy. But let's get him to the point where we can get him active and ready to go."

As for the idea that Pierre-Paul could be a savior for the struggling defense, Spagnuolo said "I wouldn't put that on a guy."

On possibly missing Jon Beason again

The middle linebacker didn't play against the Saints last week and has not practiced this week due to ankle and knee issues. That means there is a distinct possibility that Beason will miss his fourth game of the season on Sunday.

"You always want your quarterback out there. It's been hard on him, it's been hard on us," Spagnuolo said. "We'll just wait and see, you can't push something like that. I know they're being cautious with it."

On the improvement of Jameis Winston

"I think he's doing this, just coming on. You can see their team is doing that, their offense is doing that. They're getting the run game going and that certainly helps any quarterback. He's a pretty talented guy and big, tough to bring down, tough to tackle. I think our guys need to realize that," Spagnuolo said. "I think you've got to stop the run first, can't focus on him without focusing on number 22 (Doug Martin) first, he's really good. Like I said before, he's a legit running back in this league. If we can do that and hopefully get a little pass rush, I think we're all talking."

Spagnuolo admitted to wishing the Giants had gotten Winston earlier in the season.

"You'd like to get the inexperience on the first game of the season. But he's got some games under his belt. They're feeling their way and finding out what he can and can't do, and I think they're starting to figure it out right now, so pretty good challenge," he said.