EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo offered some glimpses during a Tuesday press confernece into how he may have changed and what the team's defense might look like this season. Here are five things we learned.
'All good defenses'are aggressive
No one knows yet exactly what the Giants' defense will look like this season. Spagnuolo, however, knows one thing. It has to be aggressive.
"I think we all can agree in here that if you are going to be good on defense, it needs to be aggressive. If you look around the league - I was very fortunate to be a part of one the past two years down south on I-95 [Baltimore Ravens] that is aggressive and physical," Spagnuolo said. "I think all good defenses in this league function that way. We would like to get to that point as well. How and when and where we will get with all that, we will see as we go. It is pretty tough to stress physical when you can't really do physical out on the field. I think the mindset is there, but we will just see where we are at when we get to training camp."
Not sugar-coating the safety situation
We addressed the concerns about the safety position in a separate post, but it's worth mentioning again. Spagnuolo did not sidestep the work the Giants have to do at the back of their defense.
"There is youth and inexperience there. It doesn’t matter what system you are in, in my opinion, defensively, those two particular guys [at the safety spots] are really important. Everyone else relies on them. The quicker we can get to the other nine trusting them, the better off we will be. I am not sure we are there yet. I think it is going to be a work in progress, but we will get there. Guys can do it. That is why I wish we had another 10 OTAs. The players don’t want to hear me say that, but it would be helpful," Spagnuolo said.
"Right now it is a challenge. Challenge is probably the best word. It is a challenge for our patience and our trust in them. Everyday it gets better, I can tell you that. I do think everyday there is a trust gained there from linebackers to corners and back to the safeties. Those are the guys that really need them. I think our other guys who, the non-safeties that rely on them, are doing a good job being patient and letting them try to work through it, rather than trying to overstate them or jump the gun and make the call, so to speak. I have asked them to do that and I think that is important. We have a long ways to go in my opinion."
Is JPP elite? Spags thinks so
On paper, the Giants don't have the number of elite pass rushers Spagnuolo had during his first tenure as Giants defensive coordinator. In Spagnuolo's opinion, though, they do have at least one in Jason Pierre-Paul.
"He looks pretty elite to me," Spagnuolo said. "Anybody can put a highlight film together and make a play look great. If you just watch tape with JPP out there, it is evident to me that he is an elite defensive end and fits a 4-3 system, which is exciting."
Spags needed the time in Baltimore
Spagnuolo spent the last two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after being fired as head coach of the St. Louis Rams and suffering through a miserable year as defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. It was obvious listening to Spagnuolo speak that he needed the positive experience that he had with the Ravens and that he was deeply appreciative of the Baltimore organization. Also that Spagnuolo learned some new defensive tricks from his work with the Ravens.
"Early on it was a rough period for me, but it was great that first year to just sit back and communicate with [Ravens Head Coach] John [Harbaugh] on head coaching things, work with the defense, see things from just sitting back and not being involved in a lot other then recommendations. The second year being back as a position coach, sometimes I think that is good for head coaches and coordinators to do periodically. You grow to appreciate the job a position coach has to do. Being around that system, which really is pretty different than what I had been used to with [former Eagles defensive coordinator] Jim Johnson, here in New York, what we took to St. Louis and New Orleans, etc., it was nice to get a new perspective on scheme. ... We will pick apart what we think are the meat and the good things from that and try to add them in. ... I thought it was very valuable."
It isn't 2007, but ...
During rookie mini-camp, Spagnuolo said he wasn't a "magician" and couldn't automatically turn the clock back to when the Giants were dominant during his first tenure. Tuesday, though, Spagnuolo said he could "definitely" draw from that experience.
"It is a little bit of force-feeding right now. I do think it is important to be multiple in this league because offenses are multiple and you have to have an answer for certain things. There will come a point as we get closer to that first game when we are going to have to make a decision and say, ‘This is it.' If we do too much, we become less as a unit. You are always weighing that out on either side of the ball in anything you do in this league, is the too much, ‘don't let their mind clutter up their feet' is one of the sayings. I will always go back on that," Spagnuolo said.
"I will tell you this, I am not sure we had as much in then as we might have now or we did in after that. Obviously at that particular time - the one little element, I know you all remember this, my friend Michael [Strahan] wasn't here for most of that. He was an integral part of the whole thing. [Strahan] and I have talked about that. It took a little while for him to get going, and yet when all the pieces fell together, I think we did pretty good."