The Giants defense, specifically the linebacking core and secondary, victims of scrutiny as the team’s weak spot heading into the 2015 season. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo knows that this isn’t the most talented defense he has had the opportunity to coach and is aware that growing pains are eminent.
“Hopefully we’ll jel quicker, rather than slower,” Spagnuolo commented on the defense in an interview with the Giants Beat. “We’re going to have to live through some growing pains, I think that’s going to happen.”
While hearing that statement from a defensive coordinator heading into week 1 is disconcerting, to draw a comparison, the New England Patriots were a shell of the team that went on to win the Super Bowl in last season’s first four weeks. Growing pains are a part of the longevity of NFL season.
However despite the growing pains, the Giants are still woefully thin at secondary and have battled both injuries and innate talent deprivation from the start of OTAs. When asked about who is starting opposite Landon Collins at free safety, Spags gave an honest answer.
“Before it’s all said and done, I think we’re going to need all of them to win the games. We won’t get hung up too much on who starts.”
The defensive coordinator’s dismissal of the implied weight of starting adds a cohesive vibe to the defense. That vibe could lead to an improvement of chemistry and accelerate the defense’s “gelling.” As for his plan to stop the Cowboys’ offense, Spagnuolo spoke about how he’s prepared the defense to be ready even for surprise looks.
“What I was talking to the guys about was stick to what we’ve been doing fundamentally, that’s our foundation.”
Obviously the core of the defense has been hammered into each player throughout the preseason, but as for game specifics, the defensive coordinator knows that if they can plug up the run early, a strong defensive showing could follow.
“Yeah, stop the run, first and foremost. We need that. And then if they throw the football, push the pocket.”
Pushing the pocket and plugging up the run game is certainly a daunting task given the talent held by all five Dallas Cowboy starting linemen. That being said, the defensive keys to the game for the Giants will be sticking to their fundamentals, plugging up the run game and disrupting Romo’s pocket as much as possible.