Steve Spagnuolo was the perfect choice to be interim head coach of the New York Giants.
The change from Ben McAdoo to Spagnuolo was stark, and not because it was a switch from an offensive-minded coach to a defensive-minded one.
Spagnuolo treats everyone with respect, and gets it in return. There is always a smile. A hello. A handshake. A joke. There is always an effort to anticipate questions from the media, to give real — if not always detailed — answers, to allow them to do their jobs. He is a beloved figure in the organization because of much of what I’ve described above. McAdoo lost the respect of many in the locker room, and almost all of the media, because he didn’t give it in return.
The Giants went 1-3 in the four games Spagnuolo coached. At the least, they finished the season playing hard — if not well.
Spagnuolo would like the full-time head-coaching job. He has made that clear. He has a deep affection for the Giants organization, and would love another opportunity after a disastrous 10-38 stint with the St. Louis Rams.
He has talked about the six-page list he made of things he would do differently if he got a second chance as head coach, and about how the job can be overwhelming the first time you have it.
Spagnuolo admitted Monday that the experience in St. Louis helped him over the past month.
“I was honored to do it (be interim head coach). I did not want that to happen. I want to keep saying that because I have a great deal of respect for Ben (McAdoo),” Spagnuolo said. “But, I will say this, that when it did happen, I certainly felt so much more prepared even though it was right in the middle of it than I did on that day I flew from New York to St. Louis and had the press conference there. And I remember going up to my office and then sitting down at my desk and saying, ‘OK, what do I do now?’ because it all just comes at you and you got to move. So, it was more comfortable that way. I wish we had better results in the win-loss column obviously. But, was proud of the way the guys functioned, operated.”
Can Spags get the full-time job?
There is a chance, of course. Spagnuolo said Monday he and GM Dave Gettleman had not yet set a time to talk about that, though co-owner John Mara had said last month that Spagnuolo would be a candidate.
Spagnuolo has many of the characteristics the Giants say they are looking for. He has head-coaching experience, obviously. He has worked for a number of head coaches and defensive coordinators. He earns respect. Additionally, he knows the organization and what success with the Giants looks like.
Still, Spags as head coach is a tough sell. There is a lot of success on his resume, but also a lot of failure. An 11-41 record as a head coach. A miserable year as defensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints. Two bad defenses in the last three seasons with the Giants.
“I leave that in God’s hands,” is what Spagnuolo said about the full-time job in his first press conference after McAdoo’s firing. “I’ll be where He wants me to be and right now he wants me to be here for this game and that’s how I’ll function. And that’s as honest as I can get.”
Spagnuolo is an easy guy to root for. All of that, though, doesn’t mean he’s the right guy to lead the Giants next season.