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Giants coaching search: Pros, cons of hiring Steve Spagnuolo

Is the defensive coordinator a legitimate candidate for the job?

Steve Spagnuolo
Steve Spagnuolo
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Spagnuolo is receiving an interview for the New York Giants' head-coaching vacancy. Is that a courtesy "he's already in the building" interview, or a serious "he could really be the next head coach of the Giants" interview?

The belief here is that it is the latter. Since the moment the Giants brought Spagnuolo back for a second term as defensive coordinator there has been a sense that Spagnuolo could end up as the successor to Tom Coughlin. Despite the Giants' lack of success in 2015 and the major role Spagnuolo's defense played in it that remains a legitimate possibility.

Let's look at the pros and cons of promoting the 56-year-old Spagnuolo.


Spagnuolo has head-coaching experience, something the Giants have always valued. Granted, he was only 10-38 in three years with the St. Louis Rams, but we see again and again that first tenures as head coaches often do not go well. Spagnuolo is well-respected by the organization and an extremely popular figure inside the walls of Giants headquarters.Spagnuolo is a vibrant, engaging personality. During his tours with the Giants players have raved about working with him. That personality also helps him handle the media, something which is important in New York.

The Giants are an organization that is not fond of dramatic change, and losing a 12-year, two-time Super Bowl winning coach is pretty dramatic. Spagnuolo would offer the Giants some sense of familarity and continuity. Promoting Spagnuolo could also allow the Giants to keep Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator, assuming the Philadelphia Eagles don't hire McAdoo as head coach.


Popularity, personality and familiarity aside, Spagnuolo has experienced a lot of failure since leaving the Giants after the 2008 season. His tenure with the Rams did not go well. His one-year stint as defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints was historically bad. His trumpeted return to the Giants did not go well as the defense ended up ranked last in the league. There are explanations for all of those failings, with many things out of his control being facts both last year and with the Saints. Still, they happened and they go on his resume.

Could Spagnuolo have done better in New Orleans, despite the challenges of being without suspended head coach Sean Payton, having sub-par talent and completely overhauling a system? Could he have done better this season despite obvious personnel flaws? Perhaps.

Another factor: There is always a risk in hiring Spagnuolo that McAdoo would feel jilted and look for employment elsewhere.