New York Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo isn’t new to being a head coach in the NFL. After his first stint as Giants defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo was head coach of the then-St. Louis Rams. The Rams went 10-38 in Spagnuolo’s three seasons.
Spagnuolo takes over a 2-10 squad from the fired Ben McAdoo. He says he wants to “unite” the team.
“I’ll give every ounce of energy to help unite, restore, and win football games,” Spagnuolo said in a Wednesday press conference. “Restore Giants pride. It’s hard to be real prideful when you don’t win football games. I think the guys feel that they understand it and we’ll function that way.”
To that end, Spagnuolo has instituted a few changes. He has safeties coach Dave Merritt acting as a de-facto co-defensive coordinator. The players now have a dress code when it comes to practice attire: gray shirts, blue shorts, grey pants.
Spagnuolo will also alter the practice schedule in advance of Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys. Under McAdoo, the team had a practice at 80 percent on Saturdays before a game. Spagnuolo doesn’t feel this is needed. He may also switch the player’s off day from Monday to Tuesday. These are nods to the way things were run under former head coach Tom Coughlin.
“We might do that. Not 100 percent sure on it,” Spagnuolo said. “The reasoning on the Friday deal was we just felt at this time of the season, really third down and red zone are really, really important…winning in those areas, and you got to win them both offensively and defensively.
“So, what that schedule does is gives us an opportunity to do more third down on Thursday and more red zone on Friday, and it’s a schedule I’m real familiar with and I think it will help us in the upcoming games.”
The first move Spagnuolo made was following his “gut” and reinstalling Eli Manning as the team’s starting quarterback. It has been well received by the team and provides a glimmer of hope in what has been a train wreck of a season.
Spagnuolo is also auditioning for the other 31 NFL teams. Currently, the Giants don’t have a permanent head coach or general manager. Co-owner John Mara said that Spagnuolo is in the running to keep the job permanently. Unless the team dominates its final four games, it’s hard to imagine Spagnuolo getting the interim tag removed.
Spagnuolo’s defense is ranked last in the NFL. He will keep his defensive coordinator duties while serving as interim head coach.