Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
May 6, 2016
It was great to be out on the field today. Thereís a lot of new faces. Obviously this is an acclimation type of practice today. We just kind of jogged through. Weíll do a little bit more work in the next swing that we have in the afternoon. With that, Iíll just open it up.
Q: Could you give us some words that come to mind when you think about Justin Tuck as a player?
A: Justin was in (the other day). It was great walking through the halls. First thing I thought of when I saw him was thatís the way theyíre supposed to look. Those defensive ends in a 4-3, thatís the way they look. The first thing that comes to mind is his versatility and then the great character and heart that he had as a football player. I was talking with Ben (McAdoo) and Pat Graham in the locker room after I had seen him and the one thing I remember about Justin, and I look for this in other pass rushers, he had a unique ability when he was rushing the passer to always be leaning towards the quarterback. His body weight and lean was always towards the quarterback to the point where if you guys went back and watched film, there were times when he almost falls over, but he maintains balance. I think thatís a great trait in a pass rusher because youíre either knocking an offensive lineman back or working and moving and headed toward the quarterback and those seconds are really precious when youíre rushing the quarterback. I look forward to seeing him today. I know itís later on in the afternoon. We talked about a lot of things, a lot of memories. It wasnít all football. He still has a home where I used to live, but Iím really proud of him and Iíll be really anxious to see him when he comes here this afternoon.
Q: He was your third defensive end on your Super Bowl team. Thatís hard to believe.
A: I had forgotten that Mathias Kiwanuka had gotten hurt. We didnít really have the fourth. If you remember, for a part of that season, we had all four of those guys and then Dave Tollefson kind of took Kiwiís spot. One of the first things Justin said when we talked about the game was, ĎYou know who was really important and nobody ever talks about is Dave Tollefson.í That tells you what Justin Tuck is all about. Heís a team guy, but we shared a bunch of those memories and it was fun.
Q: When you look at him and you have these young guys out here, itís not like he came and was an instant success.
A: Thatís true.
Q: He got hurt. He didnít play much. He wasnít a star from the get go.
A: What I remember vividly was when I was in Philadelphia, and it had to be in 05 or 06, we were not playing the Giants. We were playing somebody else. We had offensive film on when they were playing the Giants. I remember vividly one of San Diegoís running backs went down the left sideline, when youíre looking at it defensively, and he looked like he was going to be in the end zone. All of a sudden there was a flash of 91. I didnít even know who he was, but I remember vividly him catching the running back all the way down the field. It was against San Diego. It was either 06 or 05 and it stuck out. And then low and behold, fast forward however many months later, Iím here and Iím working with him. From that time on I felt like this was going to be a special guy. Fortunately for us, in that particular year, he flourished.
Q: What about Tuckís professionalism overall?
A: Top end. They donít come much better than that. The thing I liked about Justin was that he never got frazzled. You brought up the point that he was a backup, but he really wasnít a backup. We had three starters. But he wasnít the guy that went out there first. That never bothered him. All he wanted to do was win. He was a team guy. He supported his teammates, evident by what I just said about his comments about Dave Tollefson. You couldnít ask for anything more. For the two years I was here with him, he gave us everything we asked and was really, really important. Justin was the guy that we could do a lot of things with because mentally he could handle it and physically he would do a lot of different things. He said there was only one position in the defense that he did not play while we were together and I immediately said corner. But he did line up out there in a Philadelphia game. He made a mistake. I reminded him when he did it. Basically he was all the way out there, but he played everywhere. He played all of the linebacker spots. We had him deep at safety. He played at mike. He played all of the line positions. He showed up somewhere as linebackers. He went out there at corner one snap. Probably not the safety spot. We had him running down the middle as a mike, but he did it all. He was a great pro and a great Giant.
Q: We made a big deal about the Giants not drafting an offensive or defensive lineman. Are you okay with where you are on the defensive line given all the additions?
A: Iím glad we got defensive players. I thought Jerry (Reese)ís scouts and personnel department did a heck of a job and we feel draft-wise we got three pretty good players on defense. Every team, every unit needs them in all of the spots. But it was unique. I really havenít thought about it until somebody mentioned it. It worked out the way it did and Iím glad we got the guys we got.
Q: What caught your eye with Eli Apple?
A: It was probably right before the Combine because thatís about when I start looking at it. But heís one of those guys that I think thereís a lot of hidden production because he is kind of a press corner and they play real tight in some matchup coverages there at Ohio State. Thereís a lot of times, in my opinion, that they donít throw the ball over there. Thatís a good trait. We grade that as hidden production and thatís important to us and so that did stick out. Thatís a good football team that he just came from at Ohio State. Urban (Meyer) is a friend of mine and they do a great job. You knew that there was some thought process in the coverages and so we figure he can handle that. I think heís a really good football player.
Q: Do you worry that the penalties in college football are different and donít translate to the NFL?
A: Most of them come from college, so they all have to adjust. Every DB has to adjust from college to the NFL. It will be a learning process and a growth process, but weíre confident, like many other guys that come out of college.
Q: Any first impressions now that you have them in the building?
A: The only thing I really could get a bead onÖ They have a quick unit meeting and then they split into position meetings. I actually spent most of my time in the D-Line room, but I was just looking to see intelligence. One of the first things we evaluate them on is the ability to learn. Based on what weíve had so far itís just been the learning. We didnít do anything fast out here. It was more of a jog through, so itís really tough right now. There were some guys out there. Itís just a 30 minute deal, but (Darian) Thompson I thought was barking out. Thatís the first thing I look for in a safety. Will you be loud? Are you not afraid to make a mistake? I think thatís huge and that stuck out a little bit. Weíve got a long way to go though.
Q: Darian Thompson played both safety spots at Boise State and a little bit at linebacker. Is that something that you can envision him doing here?
A: Itís really early. Weíve still got some guys that are good football players. I donít want to put the cart before the horse. These guys have got a long way to go, but itís nice that heís had that versatility. Thatís a bonus.
Q: Can you tell how a player will turn out right away at the rookie mini camp?
A: Iíll go back to the intelligence part. That should and will stick out in a two-day mini camp. What we try to do here is go fast right from the beginning. Now itís a little chaotic because theyíre nervous. The defense is new to them. The terms are new. But you see how guys react to it and so there will be a few things weíll be able to pull out from this.