Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
June 15, 2016
We only have one more left, which we are anxious to get to. We have had 12 total. We are out there competing against the offense, which we always like. Pretty soon we will wrap it up, get a little break and be back here for training camp. Having said that, Iíll open it up.
Q: It looks like you have a lot of competition at all of these positions. Are you excited about that?
A: That is a good thing. Jerry (Reese) and his staff have put together a group of guys that can compete against each other. I think that any time guys know that there is competition and are being pushed, I think that everyone gets better, so that is a good thing.
Q: How have the new guys acclimated over the weeks?
A: I think pretty well. I kind of watch the interaction of how they are and what they are saying on the sideline and I think that all three of those guys; Damon, OV and Jackrabbit all have just come in, fit in really well, have run with it, havenít been afraid to voice their opinion, which is a good thing. I think the transition for them, you would have to ask them, has been pretty smooth, it has been good.
Q: It seemed like last year you were being creative out of necessity. It looked today like you were being creative with curiosity and things you wanted to do.
A: You know, actually today --- there were some things today that we had not gotten in and wanted to get in at the end so that we have some tape on it and when we get into training camp we can coach off of it, but your statement is probably right --- we tried to create some things last year and create pass rushes and what not. Hopefully I donít have to do that as much and get as creative and just let guys play, but you are always going to have to mix some of that in. Usually everyday I will visit with Eli and/or Ben about what we have done on defense, is it giving them trouble? Should we keep it? Should we not? The feedback that way has been good. At some point we will cut it down, keep what we think is good and get rid of what we donít think is going to work, but I think it is fun to be creative and keep the offense off balance.
Q: What have Ben and Eli told you?
A: Just little things. I will ask about disguises. Should we keep trying to disguise? Are we giving something away? That is a give and take and they do the same thing, they will ask on the other side. I think the open conversation there is really good. I think the good teams do that.
Q: Does it make your job easier that you have these kinds of players now?
A: Well look, I have always said this league is about players. The more top-notch players you have, the better your defense is going to be. To me, it doesnít matter what scheme you put in, how much scheme you have and donít, players make plays. We have lived by production is at the ball, guys that get to the football will produce, we are looking for guys that can produce, but certainly when the quality of your talent is really good in some spots, you have to play towards those strengths and I hope that is what we do.
Q: You worked with Coach Coughlin for a long time. What are the biggest differences between he and Ben?
A: I donít know. It has been smooth. I think Ben has done a great job. I have to think deeply about that. I donít have anything that can just come off the top of my head. Some of the things are the same that we have always done here, I think it is about Giants tradition and you can see there are some new wrinkles out there and that is Ben and his personality and creativity, which is always good, so I am not sure.
Q: Can you talk about Eli Appleís progress?
A: It is funny that you have to add a last name to that now. You canít just say --- I was yelling ĎEli, Elií one day and number 10 was looking at me. I was like, ĎIím not talking to you, Iím talking about Eli Apple.í It has been pretty good. He is still a rookie, so there has been a bit of a learning curve here, but I will say this, I do see a competitive guy there. I think that if you are going to play that position in this league, that is the first thing you have got to have, and I think that some of the guys around him have gotten confident in him. He has made a lot of plays here. He has gone against Odell a couple times, and I guess the interesting question would be to ask Odell. Those guys usually have a better idea of the skills of the people they are going against, but we are pleased with his progress right now.
Q: It seemed that Eli [Apple] had a good day today. Did you notice that as well?
A: Yeah, I remember one specifically down here in the red zone, but he has been doing that, he has been competing. I know we had officials here today and Iím not sure they are throwing the yellow flag, maybe the holding, but what is interesting for a rookie, especially with that position, is when you get in the real game is the grabbing and tugging and some of that stuff you are not going to get away with, so I am always warning him about that, but at this point I would rather see him compete and do whatever he has to do to win.
Q: Has Janoris Jenkins done anything that has surprised you?
A: I wouldnít say surprising, but I am pleasantly reaffirmed that he is a competitive, top-notch guy that doesnít back away from anything. The other thing is that he is one of those corners that does have a short memory. If he doesnít make a play on one down, that doesnít affect him the next one. He is going to go out there and he is going to challenge the next guy. I love that about him. I think that has filtered to the rest of the team because of him, with the rest of the defense.
Q: What is your impression of Darian Thompson?
A: Yeah, look it, he has been working with Landon quite a bit. That kind of probably says a lot that he is up there with those guys. I said this before, he is still doing it, he is assertive, he is vocal, he is not afraid to make a mistake. I think the first thing that you need to do at that position when we ask you to make calls is not to be afraid of making a mistake and to be vocal. If he continues to do that, he will learn the defense. He is smart enough, and then it is just a matter of when you get out there, where is his skill level, and I think we will find out a lot when we get to those preseason games.
Q: Have you seen him make fewer mistakes?
A: Yeah, as the OTAs and this minicamp have progressed, there is no question. He is one of those guys and this is the quality of a good football player, is you correct him with one thing and he is usually not going to make that same mistake again.
Q: Between Janoris, DRC and Eli Apple, do you have a natural slot corner there?
A: No, we are trying to find that out right now. Now, Trev Wade plays in there as well. We have played a lot of guys in there in the OTAs. Tim Walton has done a great job and we decided to do that right from the beginning. Letís find out which guy plays best in there and then go from there because we know they can all pretty much play outside and have played outside.
Q: Are DRC and Janoris, the veterans, reluctant to do that?
A: No, both of those guys have been --- some of that is being done for emergency situations, so they are getting reps right now, but no, they have been great, all of those guys. I think they like the challenge of learning something new and playing a different position, so I think it has been new and refreshing to them.
Q: We havenít seen Jenkins play in the slot out here. Is that something that he has done in the spring?
A: Yeah, he does it in some of these jog throughs, so he is lined up. They are all learning it.
Q: Is DRC doing more than Jenkins?
A: I donít know if it is more. Maybe in some of the, Iíll call them live periods, he has probably done more of it, but Janoris is getting the mental reps. At the end of practices in the walkthroughs, that is where Janoris gets them.
Q: Why did you covet Olivier Vernon so much?
A: Because all of the offensive coaches thought that he was the toughest player to play against last year. I thought that said it all. Then you put on the tape and he is one of those guys that has a high motor and he makes a difference in the football game. Jerry Reese saw the same thing, Ben saw the same thing, everybody kind of felt the same way when we watched him.
Q: How much of a difference can he make for JPP?
A: I think that anytime --- lets face it, if you ask offensive coaches if there is only one guy on the other side of the ball that scares him, it is pretty easy to take them out of the game, double them, whatever. If you have two, it makes it a little more challenging, so hopefully that will help him.
Q: Steve, how confident are you that the days of Ďthey gave up X amount of touchdowns and lost close gamesĒ are over?
A: They are done. We are going to be better. We are going to be better because of players, we are going to be better because of better coaching, less mistakes. We are going to be better because it is the second year in the system and that is what we fully expect to do. Everything that we went through last year is over and we are moving on.
Q: What do you like about your linebackers right now?
A: Well, you said it right from the beginning, there is a lot of competition there, so I think they are all getting better. All of the defensive spots, you find out most when you put the pads on and that one especially. The guys that are going to play down hill, the guys that are going to play physical, the guys that are going to be playing with their pads and punching, pressing, so there is a little bit further to go there and that hasnít really ironed itself out as far as who is playing where, who is starting, who is one and who is two and that is going to be an interesting battle in training camp.
Q: Are you gauging the mental thing?
A: Yeah, that is going on right now. I think all those guys --- even B.J. (Goodson), who is a young guy, has come light years from OTA number one or phase whatever, he has gotten a lot better, so that is encouraging.
Q: Have you been impressed with Donte Deayon?
A: Oh yeah, Double D. I was over there working with him tackling. He is 150 pounds or whatever, but I reminded him that power is mass times speed, so if he goes really fast, he is just as powerful as anyone. He is a joy to work with. He made another big play down in the end zone today. He has been making plays all year. He loves football, he gets football, he has what I call the football Ďget-ití. He is really smart and he competes, so heís got a chance, no question.
Q: How many guys do you have now that have football get-it, compared to last year?
A: Iím not going to do the comparison thing. I just like the fact that we have got enough of those guys that it helps, and the more of those guys you can have, the better.
Q: How does Snacks (Damon Harrison) help Johnathan Hankins?
A: Probably the same about what you just said about the two ends. Double teaming and run game. I think Hank and Damon are guys that people are going to be concerned with. We have to try and keep all of our real good guys healthy, get our backups better and better. You know somewhere along the way we are going to have to plug some guys in because they canít play every play, but the point you are making is a good one. I think that will help Hankins a lot.
Q: Do you think Snackís presence will allow Johnathan to become more of a pass rusher?
A: I donít know if that will change either way. Now, Hank is in a few more of the third down or sub packages, so in that regard, he will find his way in on some more pass downs, but in a base defense, I donít know if that changes much.
Q: In the coaches room, given your experience, how have you found the best way to be useful to a first time head coach?
A: He is the boss. He is going to do whatever. I will tell you what, one of the traits that Ben has that I really have a great respect for is he is the type of person that is willing to come in and ask a question. That is gold right there. He is a great listener. He always has a note pad, so if we talk about something, I know he is hearing it because he is writing it down and I respect that. I think it is great.
Its his nickname