The New York Giants are first in the league against the run, last in the league against the pass and second-to-last in quarterback sacks. That isn't exactly a recipe for defensive success, but the Giants have won two straight games and could be better than 2-2 with better management of the end-game situations in their two losses.
Is this a defensive formula that is sustainable for a winning football team?
"It's sustainable if the points on the board stay where they were the last two weeks. The other thing that we had to come up with and we've done it in the games that we've won, you've got to get turnovers. You've got to create them and when they're there, capitalize on them. By that, I mean we have to come up with the football and we've been able to do that," said defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuuolo. "Look it, nobody wants to be 32nd in anything. I know when the game is being called and what I'm asking the players to play the game, we're playing the game to win, not to improve our stats. And that's the truth.
"So when you get in games, especially toward the end where some of those stats pile up, there were calls in there that say, "Let's protect the goal line." Because in some of those games, the only way we lose the game is if they get in the end zone. It didn't matter what they gained. The other that sticks out is the 25-yard run at the end of, which game was it, Washington. But we don't spend a lot of time on stats anyway. Is it sustainable? It's sustainable if the result of the board stays where it is.
Let's look at some of the other takeaways from Spagnuolo's weekly meeting with reporters.
On how to improve the pass rush
"If there was a formula to that...now look, it's a mixing it up with a four-man rush and trying to bring people and sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. The back end has to play a little bit tighter, the guys upfront have got to rush a little bit quicker. Some of those we'll finish off and get some sacks. We've faced a couple of really good quarterbacks that get it out quick. A guy that could avoid sacks last week, and we got another one this week. What you've got to understand, and I think you probably realize, is last week, that game in particular, it was all about not letting him get out. So that takes on a different mold. It's not the stat we're looking for, it's the result on the play. We do need to get better overall on our pass defense, but the point total, I'm okay with."
On the play of defensive end Kerry Wynn
"He's been great. I think Kerry Wynn has been one of our more consistent, dependable, physical, fast football players, and we've needed it obviously out there at defensive end. All these offensive systems, especially the one coming in here, are going to test your edges and the guys at the defensive end spot. I texted Kerry, it might have been two days ago, because I was watching practice tape. A lot of complimentary things to say because of how he had been playing, and certainly that way in the game.
"When I got here back in January, February, whatever it was and you start seeing guys come in and out of the building, Kerry Wynn was here every day. I don't know if you guys were around or you saw him. He worked as hard as anybody in the offseason and that's with me not really knowing who all the guys were, how they worked. But I was impressed, Kerry was around every day and Jay Bromley -- those guys worked out together."
On why Damontre Moore doesn't get more snaps
"Damontre, the one thing I love about Damontre, is on Sunday he's all energy. He's got a high motor, he makes a lot of plays because of that. But he's kind of been a niche guy for us right now. His specialty and his skill is when we have a pretty good chance of them throwing the football. The run game, he's getting better and better at, but we've got some other guys there right now that are playing better against the run. When that changes, that gets better, he'll be put in there, but right now we've found a comfort level with where he's been as far as reps."
On Nikita Whitlock playing defense
"He's beautiful, isn't he? I'll tell you what, when he goes in there, it's a whole different challenge for an offensive lineman, really. Hopefully it will be still a challenge."
On how the Giants decided to use Whitlock as a pass rusher:
"Somewhere along the way. Look, we've known about him playing defense since he got here. We talked about it back right after the draft, we sat down. So he's scooped up by the offense, so it's hard to pull him away. He's trying to win a position on the football team as a fullback. But once he made the team, we thought maybe we could pull him over for some situational stuff. It worked out pretty good. Larry Izzo has been a real big fan and proponent of Nikita. But I'm glad we have him out there, he gives us some juice at the end. He's a good football player. He loves it, the guy loves playing football. So you've got to love having those guys like that. They have a hard time finding when he can practice it because he's over there doing all the offensive stuff, but he helps us out.
"I remember Robert Nunn talking about it, Larry's been adamant about it. Larry's been working with him on special teams. There's been a lot of different people, and Nikita himself. Every time I would see him, "Coach, don't forget." "I didn't forget." We got him in there."