The Giants will look to improve to 6-7 while taking on the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. The Giants have often been a play or two away from closing out games in 2015 and converting those games into wins. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo spoke with the Giants Beat about the team’s upcoming matchup with the Dolphins, but focused more on the season as a whole rather than their forthcoming primetime matchup.
“We need to make one more play,” Spagnuolo stated summarizing the season. “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.”
The Giants got beat by on the last drive by Tono Romo and the Cowboys in week 1, by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones during week 2, had special teams and unfortunate mistakes to drop well played games against the Patriots and the Saints; it’s been a season of almosts. Coach Spagnuolo admitted that all of those close calls make him sometimes question his specific play calling.
“I always go back and first look at the calls that were made,” Said Spagnuolo. ‘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.”
Spagnuolo later alluded to a game where he did make the right the calls, referring the Giants close win over San Francisco in week 5. The defensive coordinator has also noticed stronger aspects of the defense he coaches as the season has progressed, calling last week’s pass rush against the Jets the best he’s seen it all year long.
“I thought the defensive line, overall, had their best game… I thought they did a really good job and Robert and JPP were two of the guys that were kind of leading it.”
Both Ayers and JPP can be the 1-2 punch that can potentially catapult the Giants into playoff relevancy. JPP appears to be getting each week, and against a shaky Dolphins offensive line that has made Tannehill a top 10 most sacked quarterback, the Giants may have an opportunity to create some plays on defense; especially when JPP is feeling the best he has all season.
“I think he [JPP] finally feels good about how he’s wrapping the hand. And I think he feels better about where he is right now,” Spagnuolo commented.
The defensive coordinator also alluded to how much criticism the team has received for its late season slide. The Giants are losers of three in a row, yet still have a shot at the postseason. Spagnuolo’s solution? Take a deep breath- play the best you can- and revaluate at the end of week 17.
“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’… At the end of the 16 games, we add them up and if we’re able to move on…Look, we’re in the hunt and we’re still fighting. Our guys, they practiced great today.”
The reality of Spagnuolo’s words should mirror the thought process of the team. If the Giants play their best football, the postseason is certainly within the realm of possibilities. They will look to keep pace in the NFC East and beat the Dolphins on Monday Night Football.