DC Steve Spagnuolo
December 11, 2015
Man, we did have so great weather. Last time I remember weather like this in December, it was 2001 because I was with the Eagles. I remember we were practicing outside for like two weeks, it was like 70 degrees. Anybody remember that? Alright we’ve got two days under our belt, actually a little bit more with the extra practice. Actually anxious to get ready to play another team, play Miami on Monday night, which is always fun. Other than that, I’ll let you open up and fire away.
Q: There’s a report that you released Damontre Moore. Is that correct?
A: Okay, well really, that’s a conversation for Coach Coughlin and Jerry. At 4 o’clock you guys will see that there’s been a move made by the Giants. And again, I won’t say anything more other than that. I’m sure Jerry and Tom will address it at some point.
Q: When you look back at it, and obviously there’s been so much talk about the close games you guys have lost, has there been a common denominator when you’ve analyzed those things defensively?
A: The common denominator is we need to make one more play. Look it, that’s an easy answer. We’re always digging and always changing, quite frankly--trying something different, trying to get a beat. Every week we try to get a beat on what a team would do against us at the end of the game and what we think are the best approaches to defend it. And I think we’ve been right most of the time, but when push comes to shove at the end, somewhere along the way, somebody needs to make a play. And we’ve had that in some games—the Dallas game here, I think we finished one, I want to say San Francisco. Now the ones that stick out are the ones we haven’t been able to do it and I know that’s what you’re talking about. And look it, it didn’t hurt anybody worse than me because, quite frankly, I’ve always talked to the guys about, “We want to be in that situation.” And every time on the sideline, we’re saying, “Hey, this is what we’ve been waiting for, this is what we’ve been looking for.” And it’s a dropped ball or—not a lot of missed assignments—but a couple things here and there. Look, we feel as bad as anybody about letting the team down.
Q: Are there any specific things that you can do better? I know it’s a general question.
A: Yeah, no. Look it, when that happens, I always go back and first look at the calls that were made. “Did I make the right call here? Could I have made a better call?” A call that doesn’t work, you always think there could have been a better call. So there’s a few in there that I would like to have back, and I’m sure that the players would say there’s a few plays in there that they would have liked to have done one little thing better, made a better decision here. And I think all of that combined, I think somewhere in there, if we do all that, we’ll find a way to make that play that we need to end the game.
Q: Tom was saying on that on the run by Fitzpatrick you had the right call and you checked out of the call?
A: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Okay, the reason for the check out of it—the best way to say it is there was some overthinking. In other words, “Okay, let’s not stay with this because of…” It was a little bit more overthinking instead of just letting it roll. So look, our guys, you learn from it and you move on. But yeah, we had talked about that. We had a certain call on for that. There was another one in that drive that we had on, it was a pressure we had on, and we checked out of it and we really shouldn’t have. But I can see somewhat the reasoning of why we did. Although when the player thought about it, he went, “Nah, you’re right. We shouldn’t have done that.” So I think we learn from it, make a little bit better decisions that will help us.
Q: Did Robert Ayers come down with an injury? We saw he didn’t practice today.
A: Today, yeah, and I don’t know exactly what it is. I think he’s going to be okay. I don’t know exactly what it was. He was in our meetings this morning and Tom came to me right before we were going out there and said he wasn’t going to practice. I’m sure Ronnie (Barnes) or Coach Coughlin would know exactly. I’m planning on him being able to go and play. I haven’t been told any reason why he wouldn’t.
Q: My next question was going to be, regardless of obviously everything that happened on Sunday—Ayers and JPP seemed to have the most life in your pass rush you have had all season.
A: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. I will say this, I thought the defensive line, overall, had their best game. And it kind of looked and felt like the way it’s supposed to, in my opinion. There was a point in the game, I want to say it was early in the third quarter where we made a decision, “Hey, our guys up front are doing a good job.” I think it was at halftime we talked about it, “We’re just going to let those guys roll.” In other words, keep four of them going, try not to do three-man pass rushes. May not need the pressure calls as much. I thought they did a really good job and Robert and JPP were two of the guys that were kind of leading it. And Cullen (Jenkins) did a great job, too.
Q: What was the thought of having JPP on the left side most of the game?
A: It was more of a comfort level for him. You know, he had spent, the prior three games—he played his fourth game, right? He had spent the prior three games really trying to figure out what’s the best side to put my hand down? I just think he’s finally got—you probably talked to him—I think he finally feels good about how he’s wrapping the hand. And I think he feels better about where he is right now. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t put move him over once in a while for a certain call. I thought he did a nice job over on the left side for us.
Q: I fear this is dumb, I’ll ask it anyway. When you say checking out of a play, who’s checking out of it?
A: Well, it’s either safeties or linebackers—I’m not going to give you a certain person, I don’t think that’s fair. Those are the guys that control what we do there. And listen, I have always believed in giving them freedom. I’m going to diverge for a second, Antonio Pierce, you give the guy the freedom that knows the game to go out and control it and we got the chalk last and not the quarterback. So we’ve been trying to feed that to the guys as we go. We’re at sophomore, junior level, not in graduate school yet. But our guys, look it, the guys that are out there, I trust. The one really good thing, when the check was made, everybody got the check—that hasn’t always happened. That hasn’t always happened. So look it, if you’re wrong and you’re all wrong together, you’re right. We would have liked to have the call stay on, it might have made a difference, it might not have. That’s really what happened.
Q: Was there any sense from the defensive side of the ball from your guys when Tom decided to go for it on fourth down?
A: Not at all. Not at all. I thought it was the 100 percent right thing to do. That’s just how I feel. I support Coach 100 percent. Look, our job is when that happens—it doesn’t matter, I don’t know, we gave the ball up at the 20, offense scored a touchdown, they scored a field goal. In my opinion, our job never changes. Half the time I don’t watch what the offense is doing purposely for that. I just think the focus for us is always to stop the offense. There’s probably only one time that that changes—under a minute, we’re up by three possessions—maybe you change your thinking. Other than that, I think you run the defense to stop it and I think our players play it to stop it.
Q: Is it amazing you that almost 40 percent of the points you guys have allowed have been in the fourth quarter?
A: Didn’t know that. Yeah, not a good sign in a lot of ways. I don’t know that I have a reason for that except that that needs to change if you’re going to do the things that we’re trying to do and that’s where we’re always trying to focus on.
Q: Prince was saying that if the game was only 58 minutes and 45 seconds, you’d be 10-2.
A: Prince is pretty smart so he’s probably calculated it and he’s got it right. That isn’t the way it is, you’ve got to play 60 minutes and that’s what we’re focused on.
Q: When you were in St. Louis in 2010, you guys were in a similar division race like this one.
A: Yeah, you’re right.
Q: Is it difficult to--you have a game like Sunday and you lose and feel so down, it almost feels like everything is lost--then you get help and you’re right back in it?
A: It’s nice to still be in there swinging, that’s all I can say. It’s December, we’re playing our 13th game and really everything that we would like to accomplish is still there until somebody says you’re completely out and you can’t do it. So I always tell the guys, “Don’t focus on the two S words—standings and statistics.” That’s just me. At the end of the 16 games, we add them up and if we’re able to move on, that’s what we’re trying to do. If we’re not, then you move on to next year. Look, we’re in the hunt and we’re still fighting. Our guys, they practiced great today, I know you didn’t see the whole practice. There’s some energy, there’s some focus there, we’ve just got to go find a way to win a game, we really do.
Q: The Jets right tackle after the game said he couldn’t remember the last time he saw a get off like JPP’s during that game. Would that sort of comment indicate to you simply that he was that prepared for that team, that quarterback cadence, everything else? Or does that say something broader about the way he feels about where he is?
A: It probably says both. I’m glad the comment was made. It felt that way to us, too. Like the comfort level for JPP just felt natural in that game. He just kind of let it loose. Now that you mentioned it, I remember a conversation a week ago and both Robert Nunn and I, we stood there and told him, “Look, don’t worry about making a mistake.” He has a lot of pride and everybody wants to do things right. And it’s still all new to him, I hope everybody realizes that. He’s just a month into the system, different wording, the whole thing. But I think he did take that approach. We just wanted to turn him loose. Jasper Brinkley spoke to the defense—I have guys do that periodically—he had a great one. I want to say it was when he was in prep school, they had a saying, “Try as hard as you can to do the best thing. If you make a mistake, you’ve got 10 other erasers that will make up for it.” And that’s what we try to do, too. I just thought the way Jasper said that the other day, I’d never heard it said that way. But I think that’s what JPP’s feeling—comfort.
Q: If he never had the July 4th accident and presumably came in either on time or close to it with the franchise tender, could his presence all season long have changed this defense?
A: Guess we’re never going to know. But I think anybody that’s standing here thinks he would have made a difference. He’s a good football player. We’re glad we got him back, we really are. And glad that he’s playing the way he did. Hopefully we can get the same kind of player this week. That will help us.